Hull City are set for a January clear-out of players as Adam Pearson, who began work as chairman yesterday, undertakes the task of saving the club from financial meltdown. Pearson, who left the club £1m in the black when he departed for Derby County in October 2007 and has walked back into £27m of debts, identified a cut in the wage bill for the club's 30-strong first-team squad as his priority. The current £40m wage bill is one of the biggest in the top flight and "far too high," Pearson said. "What's the phrase? Maybe a little too much champagne; maybe not enough ale."
The "champagne" players – though the beleaguered manager, Phil Brown, may not view them that way – who look destined for the exit are George Boateng, Bernard Mendy, Richard Garcia, Peter Halmosi, Caleb Folan, Daniel Cousin and Ibrahima Sonko. Cousin earns £27,000 a week and Boateng £25,000. There is little prospect of losing the £40,000 a week paid out to Jimmy Bullard, still to make his home debut as he now nurses a shin problem, and £30,000-a-week Geovanni would seem to be an asset Hull cannot afford to lose if they are to survive the drop.
Pearson feels the side's second-half display at Burnley at the weekend, taken with the freak refereeing decisions which affected the outcome of the game Hull lost 2-0, is enough to give Brown another chance to prove himself, against Stoke City at the KC Stadium on Sunday.
"Phil will be manager on Sunday but there's no point me saying he's got a job for life," Pearson said. "We need results quickly and that puts pressure on everyone at the club. How secure is the manager? That's a tricky one. I think if we don't get results then that security goes down.
"Phil knows that. It's been a difficult year and we need results quickly. We'll have to see what happens over the next couple of weeks."
Should Brown depart, Paul Jewell would appear to be a prospective candidate for the manager's job. He and Pearson are close and Pearson went to great lengths to defend Jewell's reputation when Derby were struggling in their first season after relegation from the top flight. But Jewell may not relish a relegation fight with what will probably now be a depleted squad.
Pearson has opened negotiations with potential backers and is hopeful of securing some significant investment in the club for the owner, the Essex-based property investor Russell Bartlett, before Christmas. "The club is trading and it's solvent and it can be sorted out, but there are too many costs surrounding it which seem to have become a little superfluous," Pearson said. "It's part of my remit to get extra money into the club.
"It's a big responsibility financially for myself and Russell to manage alone and we are looking to ease that burden and provide a secure foundation for the club. I'll be running the club from top to bottom, to get it back on track and work strictly within the financial budgets that have been set."
Hull's accountant, Deloitte, said last week they would need to raise £16m by the end of the season to remain solvent. But Hull have already sold their biggest asset, Michael Turner, who joined Sunderland for around £6m.
Costly Tigers: Where the money is going
*JIMMY BULLARD (£40,000 per week) Midfielder is the club's record buy but is unlikely to be sold. Knee injury means has played only twice.
*GEOVANNI (£30,000) Mercurial Brazilian attacking midfielder sent off at Burnley last week.
*DANIEL COUSIN (£27,000) Gabon striker has scored just four goals since arriving from Rangers in 2008.
*GEORGE BOATENG (£25,000) Midfielder has not featured since 6-1 defeat at Liverpool in September