THE owners of Hull City last night revealed the cost of getting the club to a first FA Cup final: a cash injection of around £80m over the past three and a half years.
Hull head to Wembley tomorrow for the biggest game in their 110-year history as Steve Bruce’s men tackle Arsenal.
Victory would see the Tigers become only the seventh Yorkshire club to lift the Cup and the first since Leeds United in 1972.
It would also represent a significant payback on the colossal amount that the Allam family have ploughed into Hull since taking charge in December, 2010.
The Tigers are on course to make another financial loss this season, albeit on a much smaller scale than in previous years.
According to Assem and Ehab Allam, however, next season should see the club finally become self-sufficient.
Speaking exclusively to The Yorkshire Post, chairman Assem Allam said: “Even in the Premier League, the club is not self-financed. The priority is to make that happen and no longer be reliant on money from the owners.
“We have done the maximum we can do (in terms of injecting funds) and that is why we have been looking at whatever we can to make the club stronger and put it on solid grounds.
“People look at the money in the Premier League and think only of that. But in the Premier League, you get more expensive players and more expensive wages to go along with the more money from television and so on.
“Those increased costs mean our cash flows will be in deficit this year. About £5m-£6m. We had to put extra cash in.
“That is why we have to maximise money from gate receipts, sponsorship and advertising because when you buy more expensive players that means higher wages. Most of the money from Sky goes on wages for the players.
“And then you need to add to that the transfer fees and also the agents to sign those players.”
Hull will bank around £1.8m in prize money if they can beat Arsenal tomorrow. As welcome as that cheque would be, however, the amount would be dwarfed by the £67.5m that they earned for finishing 16th in this season’s Premier League.
Guaranteeing at least another year in the top flight means Hull can plan with confidence for 2014-15 as the owners chase the Holy Grail of the club being self-sufficient.
Vice chairman Ehab Allam said: “We should be cash neutral in 2014-15. For a club of our size, that is dependent on us not being relegated. We don’t have the revenues (outside the Premier League central funding) to be cash neutral and safe.
“Look at the other 10 clubs in the bottom half of the table who, until the last two weeks of the season, could all have been relegated. They rely on their standard revenues.
“That is the same for all of us outside the top seven clubs. Everyone relies on that basic award of money. That is why you have to differentiate yourself. In that respect, the Cup final can only be a positive thing for the club.”
The Tigers’ profile, even allowing for the club having spent three of the past six seasons in the Premier League, will undoubtedly be raised by today’s appearance at Wembley with the game being broadcast in 150 countries to an estimated global audience of more than 500 million.
Vice chairman Ehab Allam said: “Getting to the FA Cup final has been fantastic for Hull and the club.
“There is a fantastic buzz around the place, which has been felt for weeks. Getting to Wembley has affected the whole community, not just the fans.
“For the first time in the club’s 110-year history, we are in an FA Cup final and that is a fantastic achievement that everyone in the city can be proud about.”
Bruce, the man charged with bringing the Cup to East Yorkshire for the first time, has had plenty to ponder during the build-up, whether it be what formation to employ tomorrow or who should be in his starting XI.
Allan McGregor seems certain to start in goal despite only leaving intensive care in London a few weeks after suffering kidney damage and three cracked ribs in the defeat at West Ham United.
However, when it comes to James Chester, Paul McShane, Robbie Brady and Sone Aluko, the picture is less clear due to the quartet having only just returned to action after injury.
Bruce said: “I will not risk anyone, I can’t. The players I select to start have to be 100 per cent, I can’t have anyone undercooked with everything that is at stake.
“We can’t risk players who aren’t quite right. It looks like it will be a hot day on a big Wembley pitch so you will soon get found out if you are not 100 per cent.”