No consultation over rebranding
10 August ~ When the sign above the football reception door at the KC Stadium was altered subtly towards the end of last season, the managing director of Hull City assured concerned fans there was no issue. "Hull City Tigers" was now the name that adorned the entrance, fuelling rumours that the Egyptian owners of the club, the Allam family, were starting to venture into the murky territory of renaming. Yesterday, Assem Allam, the chairman, finally confirmed his intentions after a summer of stealth alterations, spin and denials from the club. He intends to change the name to Hull City Tigers, ultimately hoping to shorten it further to Hull Tigers.
In a remarkably indiscreet newspaper interview, he describes the word "City" within a football's club name as "common", due to its prevalence elsewhere in football, and claims that the name "Hull City AFC", in existence since the club's inception in 1904, is "lousy" and "irrelevant".
The reaction has been apoplectic, as much about the timing as the decision itself. Nine days before the first game of a new Premier League season, with season pass renewal cash already acquired, and merely 24 hours before Andy Dawson's testimonial game, the Allams made themselves look foolish, sly, ignorant and dictatorial. Despite the drip-feeding – after the sign change came an alteration to the club email header, the sign at the training ground and the wording on the badges given to members of the corporate facility at the KC on matchdays – no opinion of the Hull City support was ever sought, probably because they knew that it would be almost unanimously against the idea.
Allam's reasoning, beyond his pejorative phrasing in the local rag, is that the new name will attract interest and investment from foreign markets, where the relevance of a recognisable "brand" is apparently crucial to successful development. As a Premier League club, City are in a position to make such inroads into overseas markets, especially in the Far East, but the Allam ideal fails to realise that the club's future as a member of the elite in England is far from secure, with the Tigers widely tipped, not without justification, for a relegation scrap that could lead to a quick return to the Championship and a sudden decline in further interest from home and abroad.
Unfortunately, not everyone is raging at the idea – a spokesman for the official supporters' club, an organisation renowned for blowing smoke up every backside that has seated itself in the Hull City boardroom over the decades, has approved of the change. Even given their sheep-like outlook of this, this endorsement came as a surprise and a disappointment.
The benevolence of the Allam family – they put £50m into the club when it was about to die – has so far allowed them lots of leeway when it comes to some of their more outlandish decisions and statements. Some claim that as they saved the club, they can do what they like with it, identity and all. However, they are about to learn just how vocal and belligerent a wronged set of supporters can be towards an owner, something Hull City fans have had to be on too many previous occasions to mention. Whether they listen or not is, of course, another matter entirely. Matthew Rudd