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Tense times as Hull feel relegation pinch

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Gordon Farquhar | 15:58 UK time, Thursday, 22 April 2010

Every season in the Premier League, three teams get relegated. There's no getting away from it, and once again we're at the point of the season where it's do or die.

At Hull, the tension is certainly showing. Wednesday night's provocative programme notes from chairman Adam Pearson, impugning the decision-making of the previous incumbent, Paul Duffen, amount to classic business-end-of-season stuff.

But what was Pearson's purpose? To wind up the atmosphere and create a sense of urgency about the KC Stadium, which might just transfer itself into the players?

If so, it didn't work, judging by the commentary on 5 live and the club's fans hardly need reminding (although they probably will be in the next set of notes) that 'every game's a cup final now'.

With three games to go, Sunderland at home, Wigan away, Liverpool at home, Hull are three points behind West Ham with a vastly inferior goal difference - their fate is out of their hands.

Perhaps Pearson's intention was to deflect some of the heat away from the management team - fans were chanting Phil Brown's name last night, the manager put on gardening leave by Pearson in favour of Iain Dowie.

Steven Mouyokolo of Hull City looks dejected after defeat by Aston VillaDefeat by Aston Villa leaves Hull with a nail-biting finale as the season comes to an end

The fans have also been directing their ire at the board, so summoning up a common enemy (in this case Paul Duffen) is an old ploy, one often used in times of extremis, and a favourite of chancellors at budget time, blaming the previous regime for the monetary ills being suffered in the present.

Hull's financial predicament has been the subject of much debate, a smouldering fire fanned by accountants last October who concluded the club's ability to continue as a going concern was in doubt and warned of a £21m cash shortfall should they drop to the Championship.

There has been speculation, denied by owner Russell Bartlett, that relegation could lead to them going into administration.

To be honest, it's difficult to tell. On the face of it, Hull's last accounts don't look too terrifying - they made a £2m profit on turnover of just over £50m, with a wage bill close to £40m.

Duffen, in his riposte to Pearson's broadside, pointed out that the wages - and the club's debt -are among the lowest in the league. The trouble is, there's a substantial sum outstanding in unpaid transfer fees, plus the usual tax bills and obligations to other creditors, not least the banks, who've lost their sense of humour with football clubs.

Clubs who are relegated start to hit cash-flow issues very quickly unless they've been extraordinarily prudent, and you can probably count those on the fingers of one hand.

Football ownership is the art of balancing risk. Conventional wisdom says if you take none, you'll get nowhere. Take the right amount, and points will mean prizes. Knowing where to stop, the perennial gambler's problem, is the tricky bit.

Those who overcook it, like Portsmouth, unravel very quickly, with dire consequences for the unsecured creditors, let alone the fans.

Understandably, there is nervousness at Hull, exacerbated by the accountants' warning and the slump in form on the pitch. Adam Pearson's latest programme notes are an interesting way of keeping everyone calm...


  • Comment number 1.

    I love Duffens response! If they drop out of the league then will they become one of the highest clubs in debt and wages in the championship?

    When will chairmen learn!! How can they not include future transfer fees when looking at how much debt the clubs have. Maybe there should be a new rule in which you have to pay for a players transfer in full.

  • Comment number 2.

    Damn it, Nick.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm afraid Adam Pearson's withering attack on Paul Duffen is another part in a shambolic season. YES Duffen seems to have been completely inept in every facet of the job, failed to control any of the money spent, as well as thrusting himself into the media spotlight.
    Phil Brown has to shoulder a lot of the blame, falling out with players constantly, picking poor formations, and also loving himself more than the job, the club and the fans.
    Russell Bartlett also has to take the ultimate blame for the finances, he has shown little interest in the club, save for the monetary issues, since buying us, and now that we are in trouble, it seems like he wants out.
    Adam Pearson though, he has put the final nail in the coffin, his dithering over winter has done the most damage, when Brown should have gone, he kept him on. When he should have stayed, he sacked him, or sent him to his garden or whatever.

    Its bad decision after bad decision. Dowie should NEVER have been let in the doors for an interview, let alone been given the team to run for nine games. The idiotic call for 'safety first' was hardly the inspiration the players needed, indeed if anything it puts them even more on edge. We have nothing to lose now, there is nothing the team can do but go for it. Why start Kilbane? Why leave JVoH on his own? Why relegate Altidore when he's been so creative?

    Ultimately, even as a die hard Tigers fan, I know we are gone, all barring the final whistle. My concern is the fact we will probably lose around 11 players over the summer, barring a sensible chairman coming in and reorganising the club top to bottom, I am very worried it could be the same situation next season.

    Personally, I want Bartlett gone, Pearson gone and Dowie gone. The club restructured, and geared toward a young hungry team, with a talented young manager, who wants to play proper football. I'd be more than happy to have Brom or Wolves as our model. Ironically, or not as the case may be, our model under Duffen was Portsmouth, problem is, we followed them a little to closely, and now our long term future, as well as Pompey's is just as perilous.

  • Comment number 4.

    Phil Brown and, in particular, Paul Duffen had quite the infamous reputation for their champagne lifestyle in the East Yorkshire region in 2008 and 2009. Perhaps they forgot that Hull are a relatively small team aiming high. Yes, Brown and Duffen were part of what took us up to the Premier League, the end of long process of planning, hard graft and fortune. Yet, perhaps too many champagne bubbles and newly-opened doors seemed to have confused them on how to plan to stay stable for the long run. I've enjoyed the past two years, Hull City AFC at a level where I never expected them to attain, stood in The Well of the West Stand at Boothferry when I was younger. I just hope Adam Pearson can be the grown-up turning up at the party and prevent us from plummeting, à la Sheff Wed, Barnsley, Leeds, Charlton, Palace, etc. Long term, Dowie ain't our man though.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Never seen city play in the premiership. Wanted to season one but circumstances dicated otherwise. Did however attend the Torquay match, lowest ever at home. Spent thousands following the odyssey that was to lead to premiership but failed them at their moment of glory.Sorry city. Sorry to all you genuine fans, the ones who remained with us in the bottom tier, the ones who returned as we worked our way up but you lot who only finaly joined us when we reached the hallowed land. infinitum, you sometimes get what you deserve and your deserve what you get.City is Lazarus, the corpse may stink when you ressurect us but it will still be alive with the true believers

  • Comment number 7.

    For me it was a last throw of the dice when Pearson got Dowie in. Hull at best can only get 6 points (and thats a hell of a long shot), and even that will probably not be enough.

    Thought Phil Brown was unlucky to be sacked, and had earned the right to take Hull to the end of the season and see how he got on. Think this is payback for Pearson's reckless decision.

    Not sure what to make of the financial situation. Duffen's remark that Hull have one of the lowest debts in the Premier League is not very reasuring. Is that compared to Liverpool, Man Utd and Portsmouth?


    With regard to Dowie, I am a Coventry fan and have nothing against Dowie, think he has been unlucky, or maybe he could have chose his jobs better. After going down with Newcastle and now (likely) with Hull, I think his reputation has been badly damaged.

  • Comment number 8.

    I for one am delighted to see this happen to Hull.

    For all those smug Hull fans who have been mocking Leeds for the last few years, well here is your comeuppance!

    Next year as Hull slip into administration and crash down to division 1, Leeds may well be challenging to get back into the Premier League. Who knows.

    Leeds is now the club built on a sound and safe financial footing. Hull is a laughing stock, hated by most fans for its ex-manager and board. Its fans aren't much better either tbh.

    This will restore the rightful balance of power.

    Hull is just a small club with fickle fans, that has been punching above its weight for far too long.

    Enjoy these last 3 games, because you undoubtedly won't see another Premier League game played at the KC in your lifetimes!

  • Comment number 9.

    What a surprise, a bitter leeds fan.

  • Comment number 10.

    a bitter fan? from leeds? get out of here.

  • Comment number 11.

    Ha ha, how a LEEDS fan can turn around and claim that Hull fans have been mocking them is amazing. Everyone mocks Leeds, because apart from Newcastle, YOU have been punching above your weight for decades.

    We have the biggest catchment area of any team in Yorkshire. Barely promoted and already thinking you're the biggest team around. When you talk of teams hating us, they may well do, but Leeds will always be hated. You aren't even our closest rivals, so do you think we really care that much how you do?

    Why so bitter? Didn't your mum hug you enough? Yes we will go down, maybe twice, but we never had the attitude that Leeds fans have, and we were never hated like you always will be. So petty, so small. Grow up.

  • Comment number 12.

    Hull have had a fun time in the big league, but all good things come to an end. If Pearson was the man to change Hull's fortunes I'm sure the fans feel let down by his decision to waste more money, that they don't have, on Iain Doiwe.

    To take the gamble on changing the manager to stay up is a tough call, but to appoint Dowie as the man is poor decision making. Did Pearson not see Dowie working for Newcastle last season? With their current finances it would have been more logical to stick with Phil Brown, and sack him at the end of the season. Players don't respond to an interim manager who they know will be gone at the end of the season as well.

    Good luck in the Championship.

  • Comment number 13.

    Both Hull's and Portsmouth's financial problems have come about by poor management. The chairman and administrators at football clubs are on the whole successful business men, how many of them would saddle any of their own businesses with wage bills that are almost equivalent to the turnover of the business, and gamble millions based on nine months and the ability to stay within a division?

    The Premier league and the FA need to take a long hard look at the future of their divisions as docking ten points for going into administration is not the answer!

  • Comment number 14.

    While the financial situation is dire, it is not as bad as the 2 incompetent managers we have had this season.
    All Brown did was chop and change unable to decide on his best team, play ridiculous 4-5-1 with garbage like Fagan or Garcia up front who at their very best are lower CCC standard, dross like McShane, Sonko, Boateng, Kilbane, and no interest Bullard when fit, are automatic selections and anyone who showed a modicum of skill and flair were sent to the naughty step.
    Pearson sees the writing on the wall, 3 months too late, sends Brown to his garden and what happens Dowie, no footballing genius comes in and does exactly the same.
    My definition of insanity is constantly repeating the same pattern of behaviour and expecting different results.
    Brown did it now Dowie does exactly the same.
    The team he put out v Brum and Villa were handicapped by McShane, Sonko, Fagan, Bullard, Boateng & Kilbane, how when it's a must win game does the manager pick those ?
    Facts are none of them would get in Burnleys team (no disrespect meant to Burnley fans) even Bullard has shown he has little or no interest.
    We supporters have been pulling our hair out all season long, when 30 minutes before kick off the team sheet is announced and once again the bench is better than the starting line up.
    Take a look at the Bolton game at the KC, they were all over us but failing to score off numerous chances, then Brown in a stroke of genius or more likely desperation puts Altidore on with Ghilas up front and Geo is in the hole behind them.
    It was a revelation we absolutely shredded Bolton and created chances at will and could have won 4 or 5 nil. All of us supporters were estatic we were talking about the new Waggy and Chillo in Altidore and Ghilas, so what happens in the next game Brown resorts to his comfort zone and goes 4-5-1 with Folan the lone forward, and quite frankly calling Folan a forward is a stretch.
    Other than an OK run in October when Pearson basically told Brown his job was on the line we've been dire ever since. Pearsons real error was letting Brown off the hook in November and telling him he was safe, as Brown again went back to 4-5-1 and garbage like Fagan or Garcia up top, and the results are proof of the failings of his tactics and team selection.
    What is so frustrating to the supporters is we have some good skillful players, who for whatever reason are constantly snubbed. The likes of Ghilas, Geovanni, Cullen, Cooper, Altidore, Olofinjana, there is half a team of fast, some young, skillful players, players who can turn a game, yet Brown and now Dowie goes back into their comfort zone and picks the dross.
    Why do English managers who were average blood and guts type players all think modern football is about in Browns words "putting a shift in" or Dowies "covering every blade of grass"
    If you want to see a shift put in go to a coal mine or steel mill, what's the point of covering every blade of grass like Fagan does if he produces nothing with all that effort.
    Now I certainly don't want shirkers and lazy players on my team (why is Bullard picked ?) but there is more to football than blood and guts, how about skill, guille, footballing intelligence and ability.
    Quite frankly most of the regulars in our team this season have failed to produce the goods. They look like un interested mercenaries going through the motions.
    Or if like George Boateng you do try your hardest, the problem with him is his legs went years ago and he ends up giving away free kicks around the box or penalties and getting yellows or reds.
    Our centre midfield is a liability with George and Bullard, teams know they can just waltz through our middle and pick up a free kick around the penalty area when George is late again for a tackle.
    So what did Dowie do instead of playing a young energetic tackling midfielder in Seyi Olofinjana, he puts 5 in midfield thus limiting our attacking options.
    Can any fan of any team honestly say a midfield of Fagan, Boateng, Bullard (who is not match fit or interested) Kilbane and Cairney will worry them ?
    Other than Cairney the rest are dross, too old and slow or uninterested.
    The team that would have caused others problems with the players available is

    Mendy or S. Gardner, Mouyokolo, Cooper, Dawson
    Ghilas, Olofinjana, Cairney, Geovanni
    Altidore, Cullen or Jan VofH

    But of course the blood and guts brigade go for the so called "experienced players" unable to comprehend it's those players that have got us in the mess we are in.
    I really fear for our club if we have to go into administration as quite frankly they will sell the good young players and leave us with the dross, after all who would want McShane, Fagan, Boateng, Bullard (on his wages), Kilbane, Garcia or Folan ?
    I think it is our lot in life to suffer as Hull City supporters we never have had an honest owner who cared about the City, supporters or success, it's always been about cash and carry, cashing in and carrying it off to their bank account and leaving the Tigers in hock !
    Thanks for letting me vent on your blog.


  • Comment number 15.

    This sounds just like what happened to Leeds and Bradford and look at them now

  • Comment number 16.

    Hull City were lucky to be in the premiership in thier first year....Obviously Brown lost the plot ages back and he started to think that he was the finest when Hull were doig well with all the pomp and show of using an earliece and prancing on the touchline and this earned him hate and and not much respect from the players post the huddle on the pitch....the downfall had started there and then......A huge restructuring and players up for sale seems to be the only solution for Hull....they will eventually go down to league 1 without doubt

  • Comment number 17.

    Can't buy the excuse that the half time team talk is the reason why Hull have gone down, for George Boateng to say that is embarrassing.

    It was 16 months ago, if they can't get over it in that time, then get another job. It is just the usual pro football exonerating himself from any blame.

    Yes, Phil Brown has to take his share of the blame, of course he does. Maybe the pitch team talk wasn't his finest moment. But to use that as an excuse for getting relegated 16 months later is pathetic.

  • Comment number 18.

    @ Phil... Are you mental?! Leeds get promoted to the Premiership next season?!, honestly i just fell off my chair laughing. Its taken you god knows how long to drag yourself out of league 1. Be very lucky if you dont go back down next season, easy 6 poits for us tigers haha. UTT

  • Comment number 19.

    Good luck to the same old teams this year. Personally I think Wolves are doomed :/


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