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The clock is ticking for Hull

By | 3rd November 2009

After a decade in relative anonymity at the wrong end of the English football league pyramid, you would think Hull City fans would be enjoying their spell in the limelight. But given the worrying nature of the headlines over the past few weeks, you could forgive them for wishing for a return to the peace and quiet of the lower leagues.

Uncertainty that stretches from the dressing room to the boardroom has seen the chairman Paul Duffen resign and new man (or should that be old man?) Adam Pearson return. Pearson immediately backed beleaguered boss Phil Brown, although his statement cloaked a subtle warning that a bad result against Stoke could be curtains for the former Derby boss.

All of this caps a horrible 12 months for the club which has seen the dream turn into a nightmare. They had that fantastic start to last season, which saw them flying high in the table, beating the likes of Spurs and Arsenal away. Punch-drunk with their dizzy heights, Duffen boldly declared the club were aiming for Europe, not relegation (a quote which now causes most Tigers fans to wince with embarrassment).

But come May safety was celebrated with all the vigour and relief of a side that had won only one game all calendar year, and were nudged above the safety line only by the inadequacies of others.

The poor form has continued this year, with just two league wins, and the side look relegation fodder all over. What is more worrying is the latest financial results from Deloitte which say the club has to raise £23 million just to stay a ‘going concern’ and cover their costs next season. It’s when you delve into this issue that you find the root of Hull’s problems.

The club has the seventh highest wage bill in the top flight, but since selling Michael Turner to Sunderland in August, have no real saleable assets to speak of. Did their early success go to their head? Is it a coincidence that around about the time of Duffen’s prediction of European football, the club signed Jimmy Bullard from Hull in a deal that will eventually cost them £16million including wages? Add that to the £7 million in Premier League TV revenue and there is your £23 million shortfall.

Ten years ago, Leeds United were ‘living the dream’, signing the country’s best young players, upsetting the Champions League odds and challenging at the top end of the Premier League table. Hull’s achievements aren’t on the same level but if you consider where they have come from it is on a similar scale.

But the dream became a nightmare for United as the banks asked for their money back and they tumbled down the divisions. They are the example for any club which thinks about over-stretching.

Sadly, if the figures are to be believed, Hull are heading the same way, and once you start dropping, it’s very hard to arrest the slide. Sadly I fear a return to the lower divisions is beckoning for the Tigers and their brief sojourn in England’s top flight will prove an unsustainable dream.

Reader Comments

The below views are those of our readers and do not reflect the opinions of Premiership Talk or its employees.
  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Premiership Talk, Taylor Fisher. Taylor Fisher said: RT @PremTalk: New article just released : The clock is ticking for Hull [...]

  2. Phil in Hull says:

    Malcolm – have to agree with you mate- I am sick and tired of hearing nonsense that we are "going out of business" and that we are £23M in debt. The figures do not take into account the PL money that would be forthcoming if we stayed up or went down (in the form of parachute payments). I am also 100% certain that Pearson will bring in good money and finances into the club- he is astute enough to know what is going on- and astute enough to not go anywhere near something that would sully his excellent reputation..

  3. Malcolm Sutton says:

    Good God mate – as a long standing supporter, I think I might just slash my wrists after reading that.

    Whilst the wage bill needs to be addressed, the debts are nowhere near the proportion of our 'friends'along the M62.

    As for dropping down the leagues – we have had a fan base around the 18-20000 mark since we moved into the KC in 2002 and this will continue should we drop down into the CCC.

    Our rise from the lower leagues that you refer to, went back only to the 90's. If you had taken time to look into our history as a Club, you will have found out that we have been a second tier club for the majority of the time since we were formed in 1904.

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