Our gift to Hull - by new Tigers boss

BUSINESSMAN Assem Allam today described his £40million takeover of Hull as a gift to the city that has helped him amass his fortune.

The 70-year-old moved to East Yorkshire from Egypt in 1968 and, after attending Hull University, has built up his award-winning generator business Allam Marine to such an extent that he is now valued at 150million.

Last month it was confirmed Allam and son Ehab had agreed a deal to buy debt-ridden Hull from former owner Russell Bartlett, and the takeover was finally completed yesterday.

The Allams have ploughed 30million into the club straight away, spending nearly two thirds of that paying off bank loans and tax debts, while they have also given 10million in personal guarantees.

Assem Allam admitted the realities of the financial situation at the KC Stadium had caused him to have second thoughts, saying: "We had a very hard time with it but everything is okay now.

"A couple of times I thought I would get out of the deal but I found there's nothing else I could give to the city."

Ehab added: "The level of investment started around the 8-10million mark and then ended up with a cash injection of 30million and the personal guarantees.

"On several occasions Assem considered going back to the public and saying, 'If there is any other gift you would like for the city, please let us know'!"

Bartlett's three-year tenure at Hull began with promotion to the Premier League but turned sour last season as the club's mounting debts were compounded by relegation back to the Championship.

The Tigers finished the 2009/10 campaign approximately 35million in the red and were forced to sell a number of key players as they battled to avoid administration.

They were also helped by negotiating a wage deferral package with the players, who are among the creditors that will be paid off immediately.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Hull have struggled on their return to the Championship and currently sit three places and two points above the relegation zone.

The financial commitment the new owners have made in paying off the debts means manager Nigel Pearson, who has been assured of his position, will not be able to invest heavily in the January transfer window.

However, the club are hoping to bring in at least two players and Assem Allam left fans in no doubt that, while his immediate focus is on stability, he wants to see Hull back in the Premier League as soon as possible.

He continued: "We're not doing it to get the money back or to make a killing out of it. The idea is to get Hull City back in the Premier League and to stay there.

"We're hoping if we stay another season in the Championship we should be on much stronger ground to move forward. I don't want the club to go up and down."

Head of football operations Adam Pearson has been a key figure in the takeover and will continue in his current role, with Assem Allam becoming chairman.

Pearson paid tribute to the new owner, saying: "It's a most substantial investment.

"And these days in football, when most investments are being done through debt, to actually have a local benefactor putting that size of money into football is quite a unique situation.

"It makes no business sense, it's purely a gift to the city of Hull and the community, and we are extremely grateful."

The Allams' tenure will begin on the pitch with tomorrow's Championship clash against Bristol City at the KC Stadium, an occasion they are very much looking forward to.

Assem said: "We've been here 42 years. My success in business and in life, my children's education, everything has been in Hull. It will be a special day."

Ehab added: "This will be a big part of our future as a family. We're in this for the long term. Tomorrow will be the start of a new era."

Read more in Saturday's Yorkshire Post