Hull City’s big spending days are over as austerity bites hard at the KCOM Stadium

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Hull City’s big spending days are over as austerity bites hard at the KCOM Stadium

The summer of 2014 seems an awfully long time ago. Not only did Hull City sign Harry Maguire and Andy Robertson, future stars of the World Cup and Champions League, twice they broke their club record signing to land Jake Livermore and then Abel Hernandez.

Not much change was found from £40m in the transfer window that followed City’s run to the FA Cup final, but four years on it is a club living through its subsequent age of austerity.

Money is too tight to mention at the KCOM Stadium ahead of this new Championship season. Or so it would seem.

Although an undisclosed fee – believed to be in the region of £300,000 – was found to land Eric Lichaj from Nottingham Forest two weeks ago, City have so far lacked the spending power to strengthen Nigel Adkins’ squad.



Nigel Adkins during pre-season training

Nigel Adkins during pre-season training

There is cash waiting to be handed over, as the rejected bids for Cedric Kipre and Conor Townsend have underlined, but it is clearly in very short supply this summer.

Twelve months after £16m was committed to sign Kevin Stewart, Nouha Dicko, Stephen Kingsley, Jon Toral, Jackson Irvine and Ondrej Mazuch, roughly a third of the record-breaking sales banked following relegation from the top-flight, Adkins finds himself shopping in a very different supermarket ahead of 2018-19.

Rather than the Premier League and Championship, targets are being tracked in the SPL and League One. Low six-figure offers, not the seven-figure outlays of last summer, have become the recurring theme.

Supporters have every right to be disappointed, especially after the exits of so many high-profile names, but none should be surprised. Adkins spoke about slashed budgets in the final weeks of last season, while in February vice chairman Ehab Allam could scarcely have been more clear about the board’s business model moving forward.

“Spending more on players in the summer is only going to increase our level of investment and the asking price,” said Allam, whose family have been seeking new buyers since first placing the club up for sale in April 2014.



Hull City vice chairman Ehab Allam during the Championship match at The Den

Hull City vice chairman Ehab Allam during the Championship match away to Millwall in November

“We don’t want to increase the asking price. We want to keep it sensible. Ideally we would like to recover what we put into the club, and we think that is possible.”

Roughly translated: the well has run dry in the eighth year of the Allam family’s ownership.

Plenty will point towards the parachute payments banked and due – roughly £41m last term and £34m this – but that income will not be spent on recruitment. City, again in the words of Ehab Allam, has to now be a “self-financing” club not reliant upon investment from its owners. The days of spending big will not return until a takeover does.

“We’re going into the last year of the parachute payments so sustainability is a big thing the club is looking for,” said Adkins. “We’ve got to make sure there’s a wage structure in place that allows the club to do that.



Nouha Dicko in pre-season training

Nouha Dicko in pre-season training

“I know there’s six or seven clubs in the Championship who have broken Financial Fair Play and they’re going to find it very difficult to bring players in. You look at the plight of Aston Villa that’s being reported at this moment and there’ll be more who have tried to be successful but now they’re having to adjust finances accordingly.

“We have to adhere to that at our football club. I want to be here for a long time and there’s got to be sustainability at the club.”

That has already seen almost each and every one of City’s biggest earners depart but done little to loosen the purse strings. If the events of recent weeks are a guide, a transfer window that closes a month from today will not see the Tigers flexing financial muscles like they used to.

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