Dr Assem Allam is not a young man. At seventy-four years old, we might have expected him to start taking things a little easier at his time of life, to spend a little more time with the Daily Telegraph’s cryptic crossword, tending to his garden and feeding the birds in the park, but one of the more unfortunate traits of the sort of capitalist baron of which Allam is a prime example is that the pursuit of money, status and respect never seems to have a retirement age, and in the case of Allam this seems to be married to an unshakeable desire to get his own way and say exactly what he’s thinking at any given time.
Allam now seems to consider himself to be only true voice of Hull City AFC, but his absolute and utter contempt for anybody that intends to stand in his way with regard to the rebranding of the club that he purchased in December 2010 has plumbed new depths this morning with an interview in the Independent on Sunday in which he described supporters protesting against his plan to change the name to Hull Tigers as “hooligans”, warned that he will put the club up for sale if supporters do not accept what he apparently seems to be believe is his “authority”, and stated that supporters who are vociferously protesting against his desecration of their football club “Can die as soon as they want, as long as they leave the club.”
These comments follow an increase in protest against the name change in recent weeks. At last weekend’s match against Crystal Palace, even a ome defeat at the hands of the division’s bottom club was overshadowed by a ham-fisted attempt on the part of stewards to remove a banner which proclaimed “We Are Hull City” and any hopes that the club may have had that a reasonable start to the season on the part of the team might have dissipated the anger that supporters of the football club are feeling seem to be fading quickly. A rebranding that started on the sly, seemed to be moving towards something more conciliatory but has now taken a distinct turn for the autocratic is giving the club worldwide publicity, but is it the sort of publicity that any rational person would actually want?
Similar levels of protest are expected for this afternoon’s home Premier League match against Liverpool, which will be seen live on the television around the world. Consdering this, The Thoughts Of Chairman Assem probably couldn’t have been timed any worse. What’s most curious about all of this is that Allam must be fully aware of the fact that, whether he likes it or not, there is a public relations case that the club has to win in this case. He is also likely to be aware of the fact that, as at any football club at which something like this is going on, the majority of match-going supporter have a tendency to be completely supine. These are the people who will always defer to those with more money than they, the people who just “want to watch the football”, as if this game is just another branch of the light entertainment industry that can be easily divorced from its culture, heritage and history.
If there is a battle for hearts and minds to be had at the club, though, Allam is doing a pretty good job of throwing away a position from which he shouldn’t have been able to lose. The sheer, rank stupidity of making a comment which seems to indicate that he doesn’t care if supporters who disagree with him about changing the name of the football club die should be obvious. But Allam is not only damaging the credibility of the club that he owns. He’s now into the territory of damaging his own reputation as a human being. What sort of person would say something that heartless and stupid? It will be interesting to see how many of the previously uncommitted Hull City supporters view this sort of attitude towards their fellow supporters. It’s unlikely that many will view it positively and, as such, if comments such as these are meant to be part of some sort of divide and conquer strategy – as was played out with relative success at Cardiff City last season over a similar matter – then we can only say that this must be the feeblest implementation of such a strategy that we’ve ever seen.
Perhaps Dr Allam doesn’t care for his reputation and his legacy. Perhaps he doesn’t care about the fact that, now if he is ever remembered for any one single statement, it will be for having said, “They can die as soon as they want, as long as they leave the club for the majority who just want to watch good football.” Perhaps he doesn’t care about the fact that when he says things like, “Do they want me to stay? If it’s ‘No thank you’, fine, in 24 hours the club is for sale… I do not put in one more pound,” he sounds like no more than a petulant child threatening to take his ball home because he isn’t getting his own way. To talk about those that have put so much money into the club as supporters is no way to run a football club. It’s no way to run any sort of business. Dr Assem Allam should today be thoroughly ashamed of his comments. He should apologise in full to the supporters of the club and call off this ridiculous rebranding with immediate effect. His credibility lays in tatters this afternoon.
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