Allams say council could take over KC Stadium in wake of Hull FC memorabilia row
HULL City owner Ehab Allam says he would consider handing control of the KC Stadium back to the city council if people are unhappy with how it is being run.
It comes as he and his father, Assem, who own the Stadium Management Company (SMC), have come in for heavy criticism for their management of the £43.5m venue.
A major storm has erupted following their decision to introduce charges for both Hull City and Hull FC to display memorabilia at the community stadium, at a cost of up to £10,800 a year.
The move, which saw the Tigers agree to pay the new fees but the Black and Whites refuse, has caused outrage among FC fans.
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They are particularly upset as pictures of club legend Johnny Whiteley were removed from a suite in the stadium named after him, leaving the KC Stadium only sporting pictures and the branding of its football club.
But determined to dispel talks of a bias against Hull FC, Mr Allam insists he has been "100 per cent fair" to both clubs and says it is a situation Hull FC could have avoided had they wanted to protect their own club's history.
And he says the entire matter has left him willing to consider handing over the running of the stadium to the council.
"All I can say is that we are trying to do our best by being fair and reasonable and running the stadium on a commercial basis," Mr Allam told the Mail.
"If people don't appreciate or like what we are doing, all I can say to them is please use your voices, use your voting, speak to the council, and if you can get them to approach us, and if they are willing to say give us back the running of the stadium, I would seriously consider that, free of charge.
"If you think I am being biased, unfair, and not running it properly, I will accept the voice of the people. If that's what people want, and that's what the council want, I will seriously consider handing it back over.
"If people don't like that we are running it on a commercial basis, and being fair to both clubs, then tell us."
Addressing the ongoing issue over pictures and memorabilia, Mr Allam says both City and FC were first warned of the planned changes in July of last year.
He says FC could have moved to prevent the issue by either raising their concerns at the time, or paying just £300 a year to ensure Whiteley's pictures, at least, remained.
Allam also claims accusations of a bias against Hull FC by he and his father are completely unfounded, and revealed the SMC actually covers major running costs for the club, which it does not for Hull City, as part of a lease running until 2028.
The Mail can reveal the terms of that lease sees the SMC;
Cover policing and stewarding costs for Hull FC games at a cost in excess of £100,000 a year, a service not provided to Hull City.
Purchase, as part of the lease agreement, £140,000 worth of Hull FC Premier Club season passes every season, giving the club guaranteed income.
Subsidises the catering and beer sales at each match, making a loss of £70,000 last season.
In a statement yesterday, Mr Allam insisted the stadium must be run on sound business principles, having lost £409,000 in the last financial year.
He also revealed the SMC is to spend £1.5m on pitch replacements next year and is currently attempting to recover £500,000 of expenditure on the stadium from the city council for repairs needed to the stadium since taking control in 2010.
They are doing this because they say all work should have been covered by warrantee, but say the authority has failed to provide the paper work.
"The financial losses of SMC in the past have been covered by the football club," Mr Allam revealed.
"Whatever shortfall there was, the SMC just increased the charge to the football club to cover the losses, so on paper it would show as a small profit.
"People have asked why the sudden change in terms of charging, but the reason is that now we have got the new accounting processes in place, we have the visibility to see the SMC is making significant losses.
"These are only going to increase because of the warranting issues, the pitch maintenance needed, the rates increases and utilities increases etc, so we really need to get a handle on the costs within the SMC and not to increase our overheads. So that has really been the driver for change.
"We are not in this to make money. The stadium is loss making, so at least accept that we are trying to reduce our losses.
"The fact that the council wanted it to be for the community, I am surprised that they set up the SMC and actually gave up the running of it in the first place. Surely, as a community stadium, they should have retained it from the outset. To criticise me now for trying to reduce the losses, I think, is unfair."
Hull FC owner Adam Pearson has so far declined to comment.