Could Bruce’s big business backfire?

Steve Bruce is well known for his transfer wheeling and dealing but his summer transfer dealings as manager of Hull City have now reached unprecedented levels.

Could Bruce’s big business backfire?

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September 3rd, 2014

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City fans will be excited at the prospect of seeing an array of expensive new football talent but the supporters should also be aware that football clubs can get carried away by the desire for Premier League success.

It is important to point out that some clubs are already overreaching themselves, and unfortunately City could be one of them. They have the seventh-highest net expenditure in the Premier League during this transfer window. This is in the context of a mega-rich league in which the summer transfer activity has now reached a record £858m.

Hull’s deadline day signings of Abel Hernandez (£10m), Momo Diame (£3.5m), and Brian Lenihan (£200K) have been added to the other summer signings, Doug Livermore (£8m), Robert Snodgrass (£7m), Michael Dawson (£6m), Andrew Robertson (£2.85m), Harry Maguire (£2.5m), to produce an incredible outlay of £40m. City have broken their transfer record twice in the space of only four months. Plus the loan deals for Hatem Ben Arfa from Newcastle and Gaston Ramires from Southampton will have significantly added to the wage bill. City have received £12m for Shane Long from Southampton and £3m for George Boyd from Burnley, but a net spend of around £25m is a sizeable sum and could pose a risk to the club’s long term future.

Is this level of expenditure sustainable for a club of Hull’s size and structure? Let’s not forget that the club nearly went out of business in 2000 when they were locked out of Boothferry Park. Yorkshire rivals Leeds United have clearly demonstrated how transfer fees and wages can quickly get out of control and ultimately threaten the existence of a football club.

Assem Allam regards himself as an astute businessman but the escalating costs of seeking success in the Premier League may mean more resources are required than the owner feels is justifiable. The recent name change saga has already indicated that the Allams may walk away if everything is not to their liking. This could ultimately leave the club in a very vulnerable position.

I’m not suggesting that City should not spend money on transfer fees but that the manager and owner should be careful not to operate beyond their means. Bruce and the Allams will no doubt move on at some point and when they do the club should not be left in an unsustainable financial position.


Ian Aspinall

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