Ten facts about Hull City’s new owner Acun Ilıcalı

On 19 January 2022, English football club Hull City announced the start of “a new era” with confirmation of the takeover of the club by the Acun Medya Group.

The international production company is headed by Acun Ilıcalı, who said at the time: “I am happy that I have fulfilled one of my biggest dreams today. We are starting a beautiful journey with Hull City.

“We have many big dreams and goals to achieve together with our fans. I would like to thank the [departing owners] Allam family for the friendship and sincerity they have shown during this process. I genuinely believe that we will achieve success with the amazing fans of this beautiful city.”

Britons of Turkish descent will be familiar with the broadcast mogul, who is behind hit Turkish adaptations of global franchises, such as Survivor, O Ses Türkiye (The Voice), Yetenek Sizsiniz(Got Talent), Yemekteyiz (Come Dine With Me), MasterChef, and his latest ratings-winning programme Por Amor O Por Dinero (For Love Or For Money).

Estimated to be worth around $100 million, the former sports reporter turned media entrepreneur recently launched his own digital streaming platform Exxen – Turkey’s equivalent to Netflix.


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A post shared by Acun Ilıcalı (@acunilicali)

Here are 10 lesser known facts about television mogul and football fanatic Acun Ilıcalı:

  1. A huge fan of Fenerbahçe, Acun was personally involved in the transfer of his close friend and superstar player Mesut Özil form Arsenal to the Istanbul club last year.


  1. In 2009, Acun combined his passion for football with his business, producing a TV show called Devler Ligi(Big League). It featured former top Turkish footballers, including Sergen Yalçın and Tanju Çolak, who formed their own teams in a televised six-team futsal league. The show ran for one series.


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A post shared by Acun Ilıcalı (@acunilicali)

  1. Likened to the UK’s Simon Cowell, Acun’s ability to create hit TV shows is not limited to Turkey. His production company broadcasts in 12 countries across four continents, including Colombia, Greece, Mexico, Romania, and Slovenia.


  1. One of the hit global franchises Acun produces is Exatlon, a reality sports competition where two teams face “challenging obstacles that test their strength, speed, endurance and motor skills.” One team comprises of athletes (current, former, Olympic etc.), sports professionals and celebrities, the other of ordinary people with athletic ability. The show is televised in multiple countries including the USA, Hungary, and Brazil.

  1. Acun has brought many international celebrities on to his TV shows including singers Jason Derulo and Christina Aguilera, actor Bruce Willis, model Adriana Lima, rapper 50 Cent, American socialite and DJ Paris Hilton, and Brazilian footballer Roberto Carlos.


  1. Opinion polls regular name Acun as one of Turkey’s “most trusted people”. He is also the only Turk to been named in Variety’s Top 500 Entertainment Leaders, appearing in consecutive lists since 2018.

    American pop star Christina Aguilera appears with Acun Ilıcalı on the Turkish version of Deal or No Deal in 2013


  1. In an interview with Turkish daily Hürriyet, Acun described himself as a “heavy workaholic”, who gets “easily bored” and is constantly craving “innovation”, and feels “restricted” when that’s not forthcoming. He  also said that he is a “normal guy” and those who get to know him discover he’s “a sweet and slightly crazy” person.


  1. A renowned adrenalin junkie, Acun leads an intensely busy life and finds it impossible to stand still: in any given day, he could have lunch in Istanbul, watch a football match in the Netherlands and be in Athens in the evening for the elimination round of a TV show.

    Acun Ilıcalı and his girlfriend Ayça Çağla Altunkaya


  1. Acun regards “life as a playground’ and his adaptation of Survivor, placing contestants on a remote island, was inspired by the games he played as a child: “I used to organise the Olympics in my neighbourhood when I was seven years old. I would prepare medals, we would compete with the children in four or five branches. I would organise that too….I no longer organise competitions for my neighbourhood, but for Turkey and the world.”


  1. Now aged 52, Acun has been married and divorced three times, and has four children – all daughters. He is currently dating 22 year-old Ayça Çağla Altunkaya.


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A post shared by Acun Ilıcalı (@acunilicali)


Main image, top, of Acun Ilıcalı, Jan 2020, cropped. Photo © DieFohlen, Wikimedia / CC by 4-0