There are, of course, lies, damned lies and statistics. It’s worth pointing out before we go any further that the decision of the owners of Hull City AFC to poll their supporters over their desire to change the name of the club to “Hull Tigers” from the start of next season was never terribly likely to have an effect upon FA’s upcoming hearing on the matter. That decision had already been taken before the poll was even made public. But while the club can claim a “victory” of sorts, more than half a glance at the figures involved only confirms that this was as pyrrhic victory as could be imagined. So, before we go any further, let’s have a look at those numbers:
Total Eligible Voters: 15,033
Total Votes Cast: 5,874 (39%)
“Yes” Votes: 2565 (44% of Votes Cast) & (17% of Eligible Voters)
“No” Votes: 2517 (43% of Votes Cast) & (17% of Eligible Voters)
“Not Concerned”: 792 (13% of Votes Cast) & (5% of Eligible Voters)
The only way that we can view these numbers is, of course, through the prism of what the club may have considered its “PR drive” of the last few months to try and convince supporters of the merits of the name change, which to many others fell somewhere between hectoring, bullying and outright intimidation. As regular observers of this story will already be aware, the poll that the club offered was made up of three options for season card holders to vote upon, which may be considered unusual for what should have been a “Yes/No” vote. Those options ran as follows:
* Yes to Hull Tigers with the Allam family continuing to lead the club
* No to Hull Tigers
* I am not too concerned and will continue to support the club either way
So, there wasn’t a straight “Yes/No” vote. “Yes to Hull Tigers with the Allam family continuing to lead the club” is obviously not a straight opposite to “No to Hull Tigers”, with its clear implication that, if the owners of the club don’t get what they want, they will walk away from the club altogether, and the addition of a third option gives a further opportunity to dilute down those would would probably have preferred to stay as Hull City but wouldn’t lose too much sleep if the name did change. Let’s not forget: supporters were voting “Yes” to change the name and keep the owners that got the club into the Premier League. Those who voted “No” were voting, by implication, not only against a name change, but also against the owners of the club.
But in spite of this, the owners of then club could persuade only 17% of those who were eligible to vote of their case. Just about any permutation of the figures given above amount to a “victory” of little substance for the club. Or did it? When we pause to consider that it had already been confirmed that the result of this poll would not be taken into consideration by the FA in making their decision tomorrow, what might the Allams have been thinking in putting it forward in the first place? Some have argued that they have one eye on the potential for legal proceedings if – or, more likely, when – the FA throws their proposal out of the window. Others have speculated that they just wanted headlines the day before the decision was to be discussed stating they had the support of the fans. They certainly got that, though some media outlets added the word “narrowly” as a fig leaf for a vote that wasn’t a particularly fair vote.
Such matters, however, little more than speculation at the moment. What matters for now is the FA’s decision on the subject, which is expected tomorrow. And it is expected that the FA Council will – after the FA’s Membership Committee unanimously recommended to the Council that the application on the part of the club that this suggestion be recommended last month – throw the idea out of the window. They’ve been known in the past to make decisions that have erred towards being baffling, but it is understood that there is little appetite anywhere within any of the game’s governing bodies for this to be passed and it would be highly surprising to see the FA Council go against the recommendation of the FA’s Membership Committee to back it.
It has long been a contention of some that the people that run Hull City AFC don’t really care for bad publicity. After all, they could have avoided the entire shambles that this has become had they simply shelving the idea as soon as it became apparent that the only thing likely to happen to the name of their club as a result of all of this would be for it to be dragged through the mud. From Allam’s stupid, childish and petulant comment that those against the name change could “die as soon as they want” to the club’s recent confirmation that there wasn’t even a particularly lavish commercial benefit to the club going to all of this trouble at the moment, there has been an element of haplessness to the way that the club has handled all of this which has been surprising in an era during which football clubs tend to run themselves very professionally in terms of their dealings with supporters.
Overall, though, the most resounding result of this poll is to prove the apathy of Hull City supporters over both the name change and the Allam’s threats. If we consider that the 15,033 people that make up the season card holders who were entitled to vote on the matter to be the hardcore of the club’s support, that only 39% could actually be bothered to turn out and vote in the first place may tell a story of its own. Tomorrow, the FA is expected to reach its verdict and, no matter what the verdict is, at least we could take some solace from the fact that this ongoing row is now finally at an end. With the Allams in charge of Hull City, however, it seems entirely plausible that this particular soap opera hasn’t quite reached its closing scene yet.
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