‘Crazy owner’ Acun Ilicali targets the Premier League following Hull takeover


Acun Ilicali joked he was a “crazy owner” as the man dubbed Turkey’s Simon Cowell outlined his ambitions for Hull following his recent takeover of the Championship club.

Apathy had set in around the East Yorkshire club under the Allam family’s divisive ownership, but this month’s much-anticipated sale to the Turkish businessman has brought renewed hope.

Ilicali has thrown himself straight into life at Hull and one of his first acts was ending Grant McCann’s two-and-a-half-year spell in charge and installing ex-Rangers striker Shota Arveladze as head coach.

The Georgian was unveiled on Friday alongside Ilicali, who owns production companies and TV channels and announced his pending takeover of the Tigers whilst judging Turkey’s version of The Voice.

The jet-set 52-year-old believes with the right additions Hull can “very easily be a candidate to go the play-offs” next season – and has not given up on sneaking into them this term.

Asked if bringing Arveladze – who last managed Uzbekistan side Pakhtakor Tashkent in 2020 – at this stage of the season was a risk, Ilicali said: “Very good question. I was talking two weeks ago about the same thing.

“People were talking about relegation, relegation. But I was thinking about promotion, promotion, promotion, so my brain always works for the positive.

“I always have positive thoughts in my brain. That makes me dream.

“When you have the positiveness, you dream. Otherwise you cannot dream the upside. You dream downside, then you cannot produce, you cannot be brave enough.

Hull vice-chairman Tan Kesler, chairman Acun Ilicali, head coach Shota Arveladze and interim chief executive Jim Rodwell (left-right) during Friday’s press conference (Simon Peach/PA)

(PA Wire)

“I’m always brave enough in my business. Whatever I did was very brave things and I will show it in this club too.

“We will make brave things but if you asked me if I’m still counting the points for the promotion? I’m still counting.

“Of course. I cannot say that we’re going to be promoted this year but I can say that ‘why not?’”

Given the side are 19th in the Championship standings and 15 points off the final play-off berth, the Premier League may have to wait at least another season for a man loving life as Hull owner.

Ilicali flew in from the Dominican Republic for Friday’s press conference on his private jet nicknamed ‘Tiger Force One’, which features a giant club crest on the side.

He got back on board after the MKM Stadium unveiling to return to Turkey for his daughter’s birthday on Friday night, but pledged to fly back to East Yorkshire for the following day’s match against Swansea.

The 52-year-old is hoping for an uptick in attendance on Saturday and beyond following his takeover, outlining eye-catching plans to make tickets £2 for under-16s and seniors.

“Let’s make this stadium such a high atmosphere stadium so that the other teams understand it’s not going easy to get points from here,” he said.

“We will do what we can and I want our beautiful supporters to do what they can. It’s going to be like a chain reaction.

Hull fans have taken Turkish flags to matches to welcome new owner Ilicali (Richard Sellers/PA)

(PA Wire)

“We will support our supporters as much as we can, making good deals money-wise.

“They will support us in the stadium giving their heart and their support, it will affect the team. The team will be more successful and we’ll have more and more supporters.”

Flanked by vice-chairman Tan Kesler and Jim Rodwell – who was surprised to see interim ahead of chief executive on the top table place card – Ilicali knows he is asking a lot.

As Kesler spoke more about the owner’s ambitions around ticketing, the owner said with a grin: “It’s not easy to deal with a crazy owner!”

The immediate focus for the executive team is new signings.

Iran international Allahyar Sayyadmanesh is in the city ahead of his move from Fenerbahce and more deals are set to follow, while Ilicali outlined his intention to keep young star Keane Lewis-Potter.

The PA news agency understands Brentford have seen a £12million bid for the 20-year-old rejected, with Ilicali saying £20million would not be enough to sell the academy graduate this month.

“Ten (years as owner) is not my expectation,” Ilicali added. “I would say more.

“I am here to achieve many successes. The football business is one of the hardest businesses in the world because you cannot achieve something with (just) money. Money is not enough.

“I will say that we will give our everything but from now on this is my home. You don’t leave your home easy.”



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