Campaign against club name change hots up

Hull City supporters are set to meet with owner Dr. Assem Allam today in an attempt to persuade him to change his plans to rename the club. The team is currently known as Hull City AFC but Allam said over the summer that he wanted to rebrand as the Hull Tigers.

Campaign against club name change hots up

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November 1st, 2013

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Supporters’ groups who are opposed to the change have combined under the name City Till We Die and will be given the opportunity to put their case to Allam today.

Allam told the Hull Daily Mail in the summer: “Hull City is irrelevant. My dislike for the word ‘City’ is because it is common. “I don’t like being like everyone else, I want the club to be special. City is a lousy identity.”

However, the City Till We Die group have released a statement which read:

“City Till We Die campaigners will be urging Dr Allam to reconsider his decision to change Hull City’s 109-year-old name, explaining that it is an important part of the local community, and that a rebrand to ‘Hull Tigers’ is not necessary to market the club more successfully. “They will also be calling on the owner to engage in proper consultation with supporters.”

Since its first meeting in September, the City Till We Die group has:

Given out over 20,000 leaflets; distributed 6,000 free ‘No To Hull Tigers’ badges; increased the number of signatories on a petition opposed to the name change to nearly 5,000; organised the singing of “City till I die” at 19.04 minutes into matches, in recognition of the fact that the name Hull City AFC dates back to when the club was founded in 1904; and forged relationships with other supporter groups; received support from MPs and built a thriving social media community.

Allam’s view is that the new name will attract interest and investment from foreign markets, where the relevance of a brand is apparently crucial to successful development. As a Premier League club, the ‘Tigers’ brand is in a position to make such inroads into overseas markets, especially in the Far East.

A worry for football supporters and City fans in particular is that this could be a precursor to a football franchise. An owner could ultimately try to move a club to another part of the UK or even abroad if it suited their business needs. Some would argue that the FA or the Premier League would never allow this to happen, but the FA sanctioned the franchising of Wimbledon to Milton Keynes and the Premier League came up with the Game 39 idea, only backing down after strong resistance from home-based supporters.

Some City fans have not openly criticized the Allam family because they have invested around £50m and thereby saved the club. But these fans will still be wary of the motives of the controversial owners.

The campaign to fight the name change is building momentum and the Allam family should be careful to take notice or they could face a damaging revolt from a significant section of their fanbase.

Ian Aspinall

[Photograph courtesy of City Till We Die Campaign]

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