My Letter to Hull City A.F.C Owner Assem Allan regards Hull Tigers rebranding
Football is changing. Some things can not be helped. The escalation of TV deals, foreign ownership, every fan taking on the role of the pundit or unrealistic expectations of pretty much everyone involved in the game. However some things need to stay the same. Football is a tribal game, even if nobody seems to support their local team any more, so in my opinion identity is everything. My letter sets out my opinion and covers a number of issues in order to address the recent proposal.
Mr A. Allan
Hull City A.F.C
I am writing on behalf of the global football family. I hope that I can express the wide opinion of such people in this letter to you.
On the 11th December 2013 the club announced that they had submitted an application to the Football Association to formally change the name of the club from Hull City Association Football Club to Hull Tigers. The change has been proposed by yourself in an attempt to bring more money into the club. This is the short and accurate reason for the name change. The existing name has been used for 109 years. I believe you have been involved with the club for 3 of the 109 years. Despite the fans protesting and a widespread disapproval by the media and fans in general you have decided to continue to proceed with the endeavour.
I am not a Hull City A.F.C fan. Let me make that clear. I am a fan of football and all that it entails. I love the game, I love the tribal nature of the game and I love the debate and discussion that a game of kicking a ball on field can bring. I am wholly against this change despite my lack of real connection to this club.
Football Clubs are different entities to every business on the planet. Why? Football is almost a religion and the stadium is the place of worship. Emotion runs strong through the core of a football club to such an extent that the fans will not accept or should not need to accept a change of identity. Cardiff City FC are a great example. One of your counterparts Vincent Tan, who is their owner, decided to change the colour of the strip from blue to red despite the clubs nickname of the Bluebirds. This was done as part of a marketing strategy. I have no information to analyse whether this worked, but when I look at Cardiff City FC home games the crowd seem to be sporting blue garments.
You have publicly stated that the current full name is too long and that ‘City’ is too common as an identity. This may well be the case. Being called ‘The Arsenal’ ‘Tottenham Hotspur’ ‘Aston Villa’ or even being the team that everyone thinks of when you say the words ‘City or ‘United’ obliviously adds a certain amount of iconic association before you start. However the clubs identity comes from a number of things. The name, location, colours, nickname and its history all combine to make up the specific identity. These factors make teams individual and memorable. You can’t manufacture history. Just look at Wimbledon, going out of business, bought, rebranded and relocated. What came out of the ashes? A.F.C Wimbledon.
What you need to realise is that Hull City AFC is a football club first and a business second. All that I have read about your proposals are for your benefit. If you leave today, withdraw your money (something I’m not suggesting you do) and the club’s fortunes begin to decline will the people of Hull stop supporting their club. The answer is no. Supporting a team is not all about success. There are clubs out there that have never been in the Premier League or in European competition, some never will, some clubs hardly even warrant having a trophy cabinet. Whether you’re the best team in the country or the worse, football is all about moments, even the least successful teams in the country have genuine moments that make the fan’s heart’s beat a little faster, make the week worthwhile and a put a smile on their face.
In addition to all of the above I would guess that you have not thought about the current squad of players of the manager. As a betting man I predict that even if against all the odds Hull stay up Steve Bruce will be unemployed by next Christmas. Unrealistic expectations are a surety. Why not break the trend and run the club in a way that is the envy of the league.
Lets hope that the football association are like-minded and refuse the application. Be happy that the club already has an interesting nickname that can be adequately used for marketing purposes. Because if you are right in hoping to be a ‘leader’ in the defacing of British sport there are going to be more and more upset fans up and down the country.