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Banned journalists and name changes: Hull humiliation long time coming

by Stuart Hebert (2020-08-11)

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On Saturday, Hull City supporters are plotting to kick balls into the KCOM Stadium in protest against the running of their club.

Any fan whose boot lands in the vicinity of the opposition goal will be doing better than their team managed during Tuesday's 8-0 humiliation at Wigan, the club's worst defeat in 109 years and one that has sparked a fresh uprising against the owners, the Allam family.

The Hull Daily Mail - banned from home matches for 'negative' coverage but present at Wigan - recorded: 'Hull City's pulse has been increasingly hard to locate during a catastrophic run through 2020 but this was the night an aimless and ailing club finally flatlined.'

Hull City suffered the humiliation of an 8-0 defeat to Wigan in the Championship on Tuesday 

Wigan ran riot in the first-half with seven goals, a collapse that's been on the horizon for Hull

The defeat sparked new backlash for owner Assem Allam, who tried to change the club's name


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It leaves Grant McCann's side two points from Championship safety with two games to play, the first of which is the mammoth visit of Luton - one place below them - this weekend.

But how has it come to this?

Hull were in the Premier League three seasons ago. As recently as New Year's Day they were in eighth position. Since then, however, there has been one win in 18 matches.

The January sale of their two best players - Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki - is the most obvious reason for the subsequent crash, compounded by captain Eric Lichaj and vice-captain Jackson Irvine failing to agree terms to carry on post lockdown.

Hull's capitulation has accelerated since the restart with the club now two points from safety

But their loss speaks of a far wider decline within the club, where animosity between owners and supporters has long since been the norm following failed attempts to change the name to Hull Tigers and the removal of concessionary tickets.

As one source close to the club told us: 'Wigan felt like a train that has been coming down the tracks for three years.

Summer after summer there has been a downgrade on the squad in terms of experience and talent.

'There is no player over 30 and most of them are loan signings and free transfers. 

'The loss of those four players accelerated the decline and they're now in a tailspin they just can't get out of.

'The owners have wanted to sell for around six years now, and until they do there will always be this feeling of conflict and disenchantment.'

Manager Grant McCann apologised after the defeat, and is also under pressure from fans 

With the club on the brink of relegation from the Premier League in 2017, Sportsmail spoke to Geoff Bielby, chairman of the Hull City Supporters Trust.

At the time, he said: 'The owners will cash in on our best players and they'll be replaced by loanees and sub-standard players.

'I fear the parachute payments will not be invested in the squad or the club and we could have a situation where our assets are stripped away. 

'We could well start spiralling down the leagues.'

Bielby revisited his words this week, and told us: 'The prophet of doom?

I've been resigned to eventually being relegated to League One for a long time.

'There has been a strategic withdrawal of investment since 2017. Head coaches have walked away, all citing a lack of ambition. They can't all be wrong.

Key Hull players like Jarrod Bowen were snapped up but they were not properly replaced

'But Wigan felt like the players had finally deserted us too.

It was a total capitulation, a lack of professionalism.'

Bielby, 62, has a strained relationship with the owners after he presented them with 'Allam Out' scarves during a supporters' committee meeting two years ago.

'It was a joke, we all laughed, we thought they had taken it as such,' he said.
'But now they won't engage, not that they ever really did. They pay lip service to any meaningful dialogue - they only engage in monologue. You either listen or you're out, and I've been a victim of that.'

It is said that Hull is unsellable at the £40million asking price and, while it is far from being in a state of financial distress, what remains is a shell of a club.

They do not own the stadium, the training ground is small and basic and any valuable playing assets have all gone.

'We are top of the league for financial management,' added Bielby, 'but that doesn't make you competitive on the pitch.
You need ambition and football knowledge to achieve that.'

And what of McCann, the 40-year-old Ulsterman who said he was 'so, so sorry' in the wake of Wigan but refused to turn on his players?

Hull have two games to climb out of the relegation zone, facing Luton Town and Cardiff City 

As one source close to the dressing-room said: 'He needs the players in these next two games, so it wasn't the time to have a go in public.

'What happened on Tuesday took them all by surprise.

Don't forget they beat Middlesbrough two weeks ago and gave West Brom a very good game.

'It might be that Wigan motivates them, that's what they have to use it as. Southampton lost 9-0 this season and came back from that.
The manager still has the players on side.'

McCann's popularity among supporters, however, has taken a hit since January. They say he is difficult to warm to, a little too quiet. He has not rowed back against the banning of the local newspaper and has now fallen out with the BBC's man on the patch.

But there is also sympathy, especially given the loss of influential players beyond his control.

Whether they are relegated or not Hull face huge issues they must turnaround next season

Bielby says he is managing with 'his arms tied behind his back' and club legend Ian Ashbee has blamed the players for Tuesday's surrender, in which they trailed by seven at half-time.

At 3-0 down, captain Jordy de Wijs was said to be standing, head bowed, with his hands on his hips.

'Too many of them are flaky, there are no leaders,' said the source close to the club. 

'The manager should have killed them after Wigan, he was too soft.
You wouldn't bet on there being any response against Luton.'

If not, League One beckons. 'At the end of it all the club will get what it deserves,' said Bielby, and he has been right before.


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