SHREWD THINKING BY CLARETS & HULL
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.
STAR DUST: Burnley’s Andre Gray scores against Fulham and, inset, Hull City’s Tom Huddlestone