A rock and a hard place

Posted by on Jul 4, 2010 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

It is no exaggeration to state that the news of Nigel Pearson’s appointment as the new manager of Hull City constituted the most unlikely defection since arch-Tory Quentin Davies crossed the floor to become a Labour minister in 2007. Following months of reports hinting at a raging financial crisis at the Sunshine Band Stadium, Pearson’s abandonment of a team which he guided to the League 1 title in 2008/09 and a more than respectable 5th place finish in last year’s Championship for the East Riding of Yorkshire (as my fellow Unfortunate Lloyd stated earlier today) was a genuinely surprising development.

From the reaction of Leicester fans to his departure, it is clear that he is highly regarded by those who see his work at close quarters. Fans of Southampton still remember his very brief cameo appearance in the St Mary’s dugout with some appreciation. His ability to get the best out of underperforming players such as Matty Fryatt is just one of the qualities displayed during a successful two-season stint at the Walkers Stadium, endearing him to the home supporters and future employers alike.

In keeping with modern footballing traditions, Pearson’s own comments reveal little of the thought process behind the move. A comparison between the situation of both clubs may, though, provide an insight. While there remains a degree of confusion over the true extent of Hull’s finances, recent public statements by recently re-installed chairman Adam Pearson suggest that the austerity drive instigated toward the end of their ill-fated last Premier League season has started to impact upon the reported £39 million-a-year wage bill. The transfer or release of handsomely rewarded players such as Stephen Hunt and Bernard Mendy are said to have brought the payroll closer to the stated annual target of £15 million (still a large amount compared with others at that level). Those more realistic minds among the Hull support may worry that the board intends to wager on a short stay in the Cocaleague, but ambitions do not appear to be dented by the pessimistic financial outlook. Indeed, reading further into chairman Pearson’s public pronouncements, limited funds will be available to improve the squad via loans and the odd, modest fee.

Compare the situation with that in the East Midlands, where Nigel Pearson declined to discuss an extension to his contract last season. The Leicester playing staff, combining experience (in the likes of Richie Wellens and Matt Oakley) with youthful talents (Andy King and Michael Morrison) and supplemented by eager top flight loanees such as Martyn Waghorn, will be hard pressed to match last term’s achievements. The twin swords of Damocles – a reported £26 million debt and tax evasion charges against owner Milan Mandaric – hanging over the Walkers Stadium render the possibility of significant investment in playing staff unlikely. The chief concern of City fans must be that the club may not be able to resist bids for the signatures of those young talents.

It is perhaps indicative of the state of the English game that offers of employment by two of the country’s largest clubs are weighed not on the merits of the organizations in question, but on the relative extent of their financial difficulties. Thus, another reputation for integrity is trumped by pragmatism.
As a kid, Stanley undertook an odyssey around the football grounds of London and North Kent before alighting at Millwall. Despite the efforts of Jason Dair and many others, as an adult he decided to move closer to the arena erroneously known as the New Den and is now a proud season-ticket holder.


  1. Lanterne Rouge
    July 6, 2010

    You make a very good point that Pearson turned Fryatt round after the once prominent youngster's career appeared to have lost its way a bit during that mad spell of handing the post to managerial miscreants – Allen, Holloway, Levein etc.

    Our fellow blogger Scarf may have a view on the financial temperatures of Cities Hull and Leicester?

  2. Frank Heaven
    July 7, 2010

    I suspect, as you say, that there is much more to this financially than meets the eye. But I find it hard to believe that Hull are on solid ground.

    They are reportedly prepared to pay Bullard £2m to leave the club, and be shot of his £40k a week wages, but even if that happens, and they eventually get down to the targeted £15m salary bill, what base of players does that leave Pearson to rebuild from?

    Admittedly, he may have struggled to match last term's achievements at the Walkers – but then, Hull have over-achieved for the past three years. In a city where sporting passions have traditionally centred on rugby league, I can't help feeling that interest levels and achievement are both on the slide…


Leave a Reply