New badge for Hull City but no new owners secured yet

Hull City manager Nigel Adkins and his side were expecting a change of club ownership soon but they will travel in a new direction after a Paul-Duffen led takeover stalled (Picture Clint Hughes/PA Wire).
Hull City manager Nigel Adkins and his side were expecting a change of club ownership soon but they will travel in a new direction after a Paul-Duffen led takeover stalled (Picture Clint Hughes/PA Wire).
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HULL CITY have a new badge, but the status quo remains.

Yesterday’s welcome return for Tigers supporters of their club’s name to a crest – that had become a symbol of the controversial attempt to rebrand in 2014 – was tempered by news that the already stalled Paul Duffen-led takeover has been firmly mothballed.

Adkins holds the key to the direction the club take in the longer term now that the hopes of a takeover happening any time soon have been dashed.

Richard Sutcliffe

A lack of funds, chairman Assem Allam has claimed, is behind the club looking elsewhere for a potential buyer at the asking price of £50m.

The Yorkshire Post understands the same member of the Saudi consortium who had been behind the much-touted buyout being put on hold shortly before Christmas, in order to seek further clarification on the future use of the land surrounding the KCOM Stadium, is the one who has pulled out. He left behind an unpluggable hole in the group’s finances.

Allam has revealed talks are due to take place within the next fortnight with another interested party, but this represents starting from scratch, meaning due diligence and all the other aspects involved in any takeover will have to be completed again.

This is likely to push any potential deal into the summer and probably beyond. It is not the news either Hull supporters or the club’s owners wanted to hear, but what does it mean for Hull, both in the long- and short-term?

For now little has changed. Club insiders were quick to stress that it was business as usual in the wake of Duffen’s takeover first encountering problems back in November and that remains the case today.

The transfer window saw the honouring of a pledge from the Allams not to sell the club’s key players despite serious interest in Kamil Grosicki from Middlesbrough and Monaco, and captain Markus Henriksen being the subject of two offers from Ligue 1 side Bordeaux.

Hull had hoped to strengthen manager Nigel Adkins’s hand considerably during January and Marc Pugh was a welcome addition on loan from Bournemouth. Liam Ridgewell also joined as a free agent following his release by MLS side Portland Timbers in December.

But, as vice chairman Ehab Allam pointed out in these pages last Friday, the stirring run that had taken Adkins’s side from relegation candidates in December to the fringes of the play-offs meant Hull had “become victims of our own success” due to rivals being unwilling to deal with the East Yorkshire outfit.

Even those clubs willing to send a loan player back to the Premier League suddenly had a change of heart once it became evident that Hull would then look to strike a deal of their own. A big compliment to the strides taken under Adkins, but frustrating nonetheless.

Adkins, in fact, holds the key to the direction the club take in the longer term now that the hopes of a takeover happening any time soon have been dashed.

He has already achieved much. Taking a side who were third bottom at the start of December to within touching distance of the top six is no mean feat. Nor is engendering a sense of hope among a group of supporters who still feel there is plenty wrong in how their club is bring run.

But if Hull are to maintain the sort of lifestyle they have become accustomed to in recent years then Adkins, whose own deal ends in June, needs to emulate Phil Brown in timing to perfection a late dash for promotion.

Hull were eighth at the corresponding stage of the 2007-08 campaign and did not break into the top six until the second week of March. Nevertheless, the Tigers were the ones celebrating at Wembley a little over two months later thanks to a famous volleyed goal from Dean Windass.

Only a repeat this term can prevent the ramifications of the Saudi takeover falling through from truly hitting home come the summer. This is when the club’s parachute payments come to an end after two years rather than the usual three due to having spent just 12 months among the elite following promotion in 2016.

Last season Hull generated £23.7m profit on the back of a £41m windfall in lieu of the club’s relegation from the top flight.

This time around the club are understood to be on course to break even at the end of a campaign when the coffers will have been swollen by a final payment of around £33m from the Premier League.

If still in the Championship next season, Hull’s financial cloth will have to be cut accordingly if the club are to remain self-sufficient.

Interest in Grosicki and Jarrod Bowen will suddenly not be as easy to dismiss. The wage bill will also have to be reduced, surely making it difficult to retain David Marshall and Henriksen, both in the final few months of existing contracts that were signed when the club was in the top flight.

Much therefore rests on the next few months in terms of deciding just what sort of Hull City will kick off next season sporting the new badge that was so warmly welcomed by supporters yesterday.