While Hull City’s fans might have expected the club leadership’s entire focus to be on the battle for Championship survival they have instead turned their attention to the media – banning local journalists and hitting out at The Athletic for “misleading gossip”.
Two days before the season resumed Hull Daily Mail and Hull Live reporters were told they would not be granted entry to the KCOM Stadium.
Hull Live reported that “it was due to what was perceived to be negative coverage and cited our assessment of captain Eric Lichaj and vice captain Jackson Irvine leaving the club last week as the latest example.”
Fans and journalists lined up to show their support for Buckingham’s reporting with former FSA Writer of the Year Jonathan Wilson tweeting that it was a “pathetic gesture from a club with an incredibly small-minded press department”.
Things took an even stranger turn yesterday when the club chose to release the contents of an email from The Athletic which was sent to the club last Friday. It posed a list of questions relating to player contracts, the potential sale of the club, and the Allam family’s alleged “dictatorial” running of the club. The club’s response accused the questions of being “ill-informed, substantially inaccurate, tittle tattle and misleading gossip”.
The Athletic’s feature “Special investigation: The story of Hull City’s decline” was published yesterday with contributions from some of the country’s best-known football journalists.
Hull City Supporters’ Trust chair Geoff Bielby was damning in his indictment of the club’s ownership.
“It is a continuation of the past four years,” said Bielby. “It has been a steady, managed decline ever since. There has been a stream of very good players leaving the club or not taking up offers of contracts. Our owners are now well used to offering short and low-paid contracts and players vote with their feet. Not just players — we lost head coaches — many stating a lack of ambition.
“Nigel Adkins, he did a great job as manager here and chose to have a year out rather than renew a contract. He stated a lack of ambition. Marco Silva moved to Watford but refused to sign the contract he was offered at Hull. They have all chosen to leave.
“Even local lads like Max Clark and Josh Tymon, local Hull lads playing for their team, surrounded by their family, have gone. The owners decided to cash in on Bowen and Grosicki. We have long-term injuries, an inexperienced squad.
“The biggest frustration last week in losing Lichaj and Irvine is losing big club players, captain and vice-captain, what is going wrong?
“Maybe there is one reason: the owners.”