Hull City have made their vision clear for their first League One campaign for 15 years. Club secretary David Beelby insisted, “no other club in League One is spending the money we are spending. We want to be back in the Championship and that’s the aim for next season.”
In a meeting with the supporters committee on the 25th August, Beelby and Vice Chairman Ehab Allam outlined the extent of the financial damage obtained by League One & League Two clubs as a result of Covid-19 due to the loss of gate income.
Allam stated the owners have input £3m into the club over August, and income from the sale of fan favourites Jarrod Bowen and Kamil ‘Turbo’ Grosicki have put the club in a stronger financial position to make an inspired push for promotion.
Bowen’s £22million January move from the club was deplored by Hull fans but could financially nurture the club through an unpredictable season, with more money yet to come in for the striker. As is the case with the departure of admired winger Grosicki, who’s £27,000 weekly wage can now be invested elsewhere.
The exodus of talent with heavy pay packets has been melancholy viewing, as fans watch their former Premier League side seemingly wither away before their eyes. High earners Kevin Stewart, Jon Toral, Eric Lichaj and Jackson Irvine have all left, as the club prepare for the new wage limitations imposed on League One and Two.
In addition to the lack of gate money, Hull’s dwindling attendance is set to continue and cause further financial issues. The club confirmed that more fans are abandoning their membership, and are anticipating 6,500 members by the start of the season. The amalgamation of boycotts, Covid fears, and lower quality football means the 25,000 seater KCOM Stadium will remain largely hollow - with or without social distancing constraints.
The club are seen to be showing intent of rejuvenating the fractured fanbase. One fan at the meeting, at which point Allam and Beelby had exited early, enquired whether larger transparency between owners and fans in regard to finances would improve the relationship, Joe Clutterbrook -Head of commercial & marketing, laid out the clubs plans of improved communications via weekly press conferences where fans can ask questions, a new video site and a new app.
Fan engagement has also been challenged by the unusual decision to keep on manager Grant McCann, who was at the helm of the worst form record in the Championship since records began. With Bowen and Grosicki keeping them afloat, Hull were frantically struggling just to tread water each fixture when the pair left. They were finally submerged with an 8-0 defeat to Wigan, sustaining the fan’s perception that the club lacks ambition and the wherewithal to learn from mistakes by keeping on a manager with such a sombre first season.
Allam and Beelby did little to revitalise confidence from fans with their opacity when questioned about where accountability lies, if not with McCann. The pair waltzed around questions relating to the club’s decline, assigning blame to “other factors”, “many factors”, “a number of factors”, “other reasons”, and “other factors” again.
They claim they have addressed these issues internally. Beelby stated he believes McCann can still do a good job for the club, and that they have “taken a look at ourselves over several departments and we are learning from our mistakes.”
Allam insists McCann showed signs that he can manage a team well, he said: “If I thought [relegation] was down to him I would have made a change as I have in the past. We had a poor season and now we need to focus on a promotion push for next season.”
A member of the meeting pushed Allam further on what would happen if things started to go wrong: “How far into the season will we go, if we are in the bottom half for example after the first ten games?” Allam’s concise retort: “We need to be positive.”.