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Apr 25, 2010

Brown may return as Hull's financial plight laid bare

Hull chairman Adam Pearson has revealed Phil Brown could make a sensational return to the club as the Tigers assess their financial plight in the wake of their near-certain relegation.

• Hull "receive parachute payments"

Brown was removed from his managerial position and placed on gardening leave before Iain Dowie was brought in as a temporary football consultant, but Hull's 1-0 defeat to Sunderland on Saturday all but confirmed they will drop down to the Championship.

Brown has another season left on his contract and the cheapest option would be to reinstate him. Pearson said: "Everything is an option. Obviously it would look pretty unusual but if we were to attract new investment into the club and the board was therefore changed then obviously they may have a different view.''

The Tigers' financial problems have been well publicised and Pearson used his programme notes ahead of Wednesday's 2-0 defeat by Aston Villa to criticise predecessor Paul Duffen for his handling of the club.

Pearson bought Hull in 2001 when they were languishing at the bottom of the lowest tier of the Football League and in administration. He oversaw the club's rise to the Championship before selling to a consortium including Duffen and Russell Bartlett, who remains the owner.

In 2008, Hull achieved promotion to the Premier League before narrowly avoiding relegation on the final day of last season. But Duffen resigned in October amid speculation about the club's finances and Pearson, who had taken up a similar role at Derby, returned to the KC Stadium.

The 45-year-old revealed the club's debts are in the region of £35 million, with around £25 million owed to banks, while the club have been taking "monies in advance'' from the Premier League for almost two years.

Pearson insisted Hull would fight tooth and nail not to go into administration. Addressing what the future might hold, Pearson said: "Obviously the informal route is the one we would like to take, which is where you sit down with the creditors and restructure. We'll be talking to a few people on Monday and for the rest of the week.

"It will be one of the last scenarios to try to go through a CVA (Company Voluntary Arrangement, which would bring a 10-point deduction), but if we have to go down that route then we have to build a team that can fight back from that kind of deficit. I've just had a meeting with the owner, he was very, very adamant that administration is not on the agenda.''

Dowie was coy on his future after the match and Pearson insisted the managerial situation will take a back seat until the finances have been sorted out, but he did praise the former Crystal Palace and Coventry boss for his contribution.

"He's certainly shown he's up to a challenge by coming here and I take my hat off to him for that,'' said Pearson. "He's handled it with great dignity and integrity and some broad shoulders and I can certainly learn some lessons from him.

"Iain's got as big a say in (whether he stays) as we have. We've had a brief chat with him but there'll be no discussions with Iain until the end of the season.

"We have to make sure we finish the season well. It's £800,000 per place and it's absolutely imperative we stay above Burnley so we have to play the last two games with the same endeavour and desire and pride that we showed this afternoon.''

Pearson acknowledged replacing Brown had not had the desired effect but stuck by the decision. He said: "Everybody's got to have a long, hard look at themselves, myself included. In hindsight it's definitely a decision that hasn't worked. But Iain couldn't have done any more.

"We took a decision for various reasons and there was a lot of signs to say we needed to make a change or we were going to slip out, and the results have just continued.''

The club's wage bill is currently just under £40 million a year and Pearson is aiming to get it down to around £15 million for next season, meaning an exodus of players is inevitable.

The chairman also confirmed the club's highest earners brought in over the past couple of seasons do not have relegation clauses in their contracts.

He said: "We've got some great lads here who are very honest and understand the club. The real core lads, the ones who've been here a long time, do have relegation clauses. The really big earners don't.''

Asked if players would be prepared to take a wage cut, Pearson added: "It's a possibility you'd have that conversation but when contracts are three and four years long and they've got security of football creditor status, there's not a massive incentive for them to renegotiate.''

Pearson, meanwhile, insisted he remains committed to sorting out the mess and admitted relegation had not come as a shock.

He said: "It's very sad. It's not a huge surprise. The form has been such over the last 18 months - six or seven wins in 50 odd games - we've had time to plan for it.

"I'm massively committed. I've only been here 20 weeks. It feels more like 20 years tonight but I wouldn't have come back here and cut short my time at Derby to just do 20 weeks. That would be a pretty poor decision to make.''

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