The Football League Paper - - ADAM VIRGO -

IT WOULD be easy to see the dom­i­nance of Hull and Burn­ley as a re­sult of Premier League parachute pay­ments.

Rel­e­gated last year, the pair are set to re­ceive £60m over the next four years.That has al­lowed lead­ers Hull to keep star play­ers like Tom Hud­dle­stone and the third-placed Clarets to splash £9m on striker An­dre Gray.

But, while there is un­doubt­edly a prob­lem with in­equal­ity, I think the duo de­serve credit for the way they’ve man­aged the sit­u­a­tion.

Burn­ley are the first side who’ve really gamed the sys­tem.They went up and said ‘Right, we’ve been given a lot of money from TV. The play­ers who are here will get pay rises.We’ll sign a hand­ful to help us. But we’re not go­ing to break our salary struc­ture and we aren’t go­ing to pay big fees. If we do well and sur­vive, great. If we get rel­e­gated, we’ll still be a lot bet­ter off than the sea­son we went up’.

They didn’t want to be an­other QPR, who got pro­moted, tried to buy their way straight into the top half and got burnt.

They didn’t want to be an­other Birm­ing­ham, who came down with play­ers like Nikola Zigic on £50,000 a week and couldn’t get rid of him. They were care­ful with their money and now they’re reap­ing the re­wards.

Hull have also been clever. Af­ter two years in the Premier League, it would have been easy to say ‘We should have stayed up, we went down, ev­ery­thing’s hit the fan, Steve Bruce has to go’.Then you’ve got a messy over­haul.

But there was never any feel­ing that Bruce would be sacked. Like Burn­ley, there’s a lot of sta­bil­ity, a lot of in­tel­li­gence and the re­sults are plain to see.

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

STAR DUST: Burn­ley’s An­dre Gray scores against Ful­ham and, inset, Hull City’s Tom Hud­dle­stone

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