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In the interests of strict accuracy, it should be pointed that this is not completely a done deal, just yet. It may well have been that the Football Association confirmed this afternoon that their Membership Committee have made a unanimous recommendation to the FA Council to reject Hull City AFC’s proposed to the name of “Hull Tigers.” It may well be that the FA Council could go against the advice of the Membership Committee and vote to allow it, instead. It may well be that the Allems, who haven’t always shown the utmost tact and dignity in their previous public utterances on the matter, choose to go for one further exercise in throwing their toys out of the pram and try to cover their face by acting even more ridiculously over this whole matter than they have already managed.
None of these outcomes are completely beyond the realms of possibility, of course, but there can be little question that the announcement – which started as a leak this morning but had escalated to being an official statement on the FA’s website by the middle of the afternoon – that the FA’s Membership Committee were unanimously recommendating rejection of this name change is a major boost to those that have worked so hard for the City Til We Die campaign, whose submission to the Football Association was a controlled, professional explanation of an emotive and potentially conflicting question. In short, the emphasis is in its unanimity. There is little in the statement – just as there has not been any in previous FA statements on the subject – to even suggest that there is much of a debate required to be had on the matter. Hull City AFC is Hull City AFC, and will remain so unless something very surprising indeed comes to pass on the ninth of April.
All of this puts the thoughts of the Allam family at the end of last week a little more clear, perhaps. At the end of last week, this video appeared on the club’s YouTube channel. Of course, there was no debate to be had over the name change, merely a new set of assertions, including the repeat of the claim that the CTWD petition on the matter doesn’t count for anything because of the number of signatures it received and with Assem Allam claiming that, “within one day of this we will walk out, the club will be for sale.” It’s a promise that some of the club’s supporters may well be seeking to hold Allam to, so rancourous have things become over the last six months or so around The KC Stadium.
There is a chance that the FA Council will, presuming it votes in line with the recommendations of the Membership Committee, outline the reasons in full for their rejection of the name change. It should do, certainly, because what should have been a great season for a lot of the club’s supporters has already, for some at least, been spent under something of a cloud. Perhaps the Allams played their hand badly, made their arguments to suit explanations that the FA’s Membership Committee had no great interest in listening to. Perhaps, though the Membership Committee understood that there was a potential for this to be considered a “line in the sand moment” on the commercialisation of football, that whilst much else of the family silver may have been auctioned off over the last two and a half decades or so, the family name at least should remain sacrosanct.
What we know with a reasonable amount of certainty is that there has, since the idea was first made public last summer, been little sense of a cohesive case in favour of the name-change. Guaranteed promises of financial clout the likes of which were made, carefully worded to set to one side how vague they were. Meanwhile, the question of exactly who these sponsors are who would pour millions and millions of pounds into the club if it was called “Hull Tigers” but not if it was called “Hull City” remained an elusive one to answer, and Allam’s comments on the financial stability of the club from now on hardly seemed to be helped by his threats to walk out and put it up for sale if the rebrand wasn’t approved.
Once it became clear that the supporters’ views were to be taken into account, it felt clear that there would likely only be one verdict that could be reached. Unlike the occasional outbursts of the club itself, the City Til We Die campaign has remained composed, not yielding to the undoubted temptation of sinking to the level of debate that the club itself occasionally seemed to be encouraging itself. In addition to this, the club’s very, very late attempts to squeeze some form of ballot into the equation – such a thing should, if at all, have been carried months ago and by an independent body rather than now, by the club itself, and with the acrid stench of Allam’s threats of withdrawal hanging heavy in the air – reeks a little of an argument that already knows it has lost.
And here, perhaps, is the factor in the Hull City story of this season that the owners of the football club didn’t even countenance. Against all of this discord and claims from the club that, “We can’t go on like this!”, Hull City AFC has gone on to have, at the time of writing, a season more successful than most would have believed before a ball was kicked in August. The club is not clear of the relegation places yet by a long way, but Steve Bruce has his team in thirteenth place in the Premier League with three-quarters of the season played, and he has also managed to negotiate the team to only its second ever FA Cup semi-final, with a great chance of making the final of the competition for the first time in its history.
These are the days that Hull City supporters signed up for as children, the chance of top division football and FA Cup finals, of glory and hope, the twin sustenances of the football supporter worldwide. No-one amongst the supporters of the club would have wanted to get involved with a lengthy batter of attrition with the owner of the club over renaming it. This is whole situation has been brought about solely by the people that run this particular football club. It’s time for the Allams to face up to the fact that this battle will soon be over. Once they’ve done this, then perhaps they should get on with rebuilding some of the bridges that they’ve seemed to be so enthusiastically burning over the last few months. And the supporters of Hull City AFC can get back to the job of being supporters of Hull City AFC again.
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Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.