Owner is taking problem with local council out on the wrong people
20 March ~ Everyone is claiming victory after the latest development in the Hull City name change saga but, in reality, it seems little has changed. The name stays the same but the club can again try to alter it. Yet the subsequent comments of Assem Allam have given his detractors serious hope that the whole sorry business is coming to an end.
The FA, in setting aside their initial rejection of Allam's request to change the name to Hull Tigers, were nonetheless scathing in the club's disregard for the views of supporters, highly critical of the flawed ballot that was belatedly introduced into the procedure and expressed their surprise that Allam had enclosed no coherent business plan in his original application. Yet despite the sugar and medicine scenario in pillorying the application but giving the club room to rework it, and the club's initial (and badly spun) response that their appeal was a success, Allam has said the original application still stands.
Logically, the supporters against the name change, led by a newly formed supporters’ trust and several prominent fans websites, have taken this as an indication that it's just about over. The FA are unlikely to accept an application identical to the one they've just picked substantial holes in, and therefore it seems Allam has decided this is the best way for him to save face. But having never been a man of his word since arriving at the club, there is still a fair amount of trepidation over what may happen next, especially as season ticket investment from many supporters for 2015-16 will depend on it.
It all still feels so needless. Allam's true problem, and reasoning for the name change, is his dislike of Hull City Council, owners of the KC Stadium, and his wish to dissociate from them by removing the second third of their name from that of his own business. This has escalated in recent weeks with his sudden, arbitrary decision as head of the Stadium Management Company (SMC) to eject local sports clubs, many of which are for kids and the disabled, from the nearby Airco Arena.
This is a venue the SMC also run alongside the stadium as part of the community guarantee the council inserted into the original deal to pacify voters who were unsure about spending lots of council tax money on a luxury sports complex for professionals. Allam needs a 3G pitch urgently to up the club's academy status and has decided that the arena is the best place to put it. Kids who go trampolining or play badminton there will very soon have nowhere to go.
Allam has always talked about his purchase of Hull City in 2010 after the egregious profligacy of the Russell Bartlett era as a "gift" to the city that he made home after leaving Egypt, and has regularly declared himself a man of "the community". His antics since have shown that because of a “business is business" attitude, and a stubborn, mardy disposition when it comes to having people (ie fans and the FA) "telling" him how to run that business, his benevolence and community spirit are superficial, at best.
He has until April 1 to make a fresh application over the name change. If he, for once, sticks to his word and holds back, the FA should have Hobson's choice, and the tireless No To Hull Tigers campaign, which has throughout been conducted with intelligence, can stand down, job done. Then it, and everyone else, will wait to see if Allam keeps his word for an unprecedented second time and sells up. Meanwhile, there is a battle against relegation to focus on and, if that ends badly, the owner will have the clearest evidence he could ever need of how relevant supporters really are. Matthew Rudd