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Hull City take legal action against former Chairman

Fri 22nd Jan 2010 | Legal

Hull City AFC are taking legal action against their former chairman Paul Duffen, with the case due in the high court today. Duffen left the KC Stadium in late October when he was replaced by Adam Pearson.

The news follows a statement on the club’s website: "Hull City Football Club has now issued legal proceedings against Paul Duffen in the high court. This action has been taken to protect the commercial best interests of the football club against the actions undertaken by Paul Duffen while in office at Hull City."

Duffen left suddenly in the wake of stark warnings that the club was facing a potential financial crisis and Russell Bartlett, Hull's owner, immediately hired Pearson as chairman.

Duffen last night said the club started legal proceedings in response to his own claim. "This [the club's action] is in response to legal action initiated by me in early December with regard to monies that are owed to me under the agreed terms of my resignation in October," Duffen was quoted as saying in the Daily Express. "The matter is now in the hands of the courts and I'm happy for that to run its course.

Pearson was Hull's previous owner before being bought out by a consortium featuring Bartlett and Duffen in 2007. Once the £12m takeover was completed Duffen became the chairman and public face of Hull. After presiding over promotion to the Premier League – the first time Hull had reached English football's top tier – he promised substantial investment in Phil Brown's squad and proved true to his word when the talented but injury prone midfielder Jimmy Bullard became the club's record signing, joining for £5m from Fulham last January.

By October, though, Hull were being cautioned that their uncertain financial position threatened the club's "ability to continue as a going concern". The club's accounts, filed five months late to Companies House, revealed that in the event of relegation they would need to generate a £23m surplus just to meet their existing liabilities.

The grim forecast from the club's accountants, Deloitte, emphasised the need for an imminent financial overhaul to safeguard Hull's future. In the accounts for the year ending 2008, which were due on 31 May but only filed in October, the club made a £9,764,850 loss during a period that culminated in winning promotion to the Premier League.

Most telling, though, was Deloitte's prediction that Hull would need to raise an additional £16m should they retain their Premier League status this season and a further £7m again if the club slip back into the Championship.

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