Over the last four months, we here at City Till We Die have heard quite a few remarks about the No To Hull Tigers campaign cropping up time and time again. Some are honest misunderstandings; others are deliberate distortions. We thought it was about time we addressed a few of these old chestnuts.
“It’s his business. He can do whatever he wants!”
Can he? It’d be odd if he could, because that’s not something you can really say about any business in the country.
All businesses are subject to laws – for example, about health and safety, how much they pay their employees, how much pollution they produce, and so on. Many businesses are also subject to additional rules and regulations relating to their particular industry.
Rule 3L covers the situation where an owner wishes to change the registered playing name of their club (the name used in league tables and fixtures). It reads as follows: “Any application for a change of playing name must be received by The Association before 1st April in any calendar year in order for it to be considered by Council for adoption in the following playing season. Council will use its absolute discretion in deciding whether to approve a change in a Club’s playing name.”
So can Dr Allam “do whatever he wants”? No. Ultimately, it’s for the FA to decide.
Furthermore, it’s not very good business practice to make a fundamental change to your business without trying to ascertain the views of your most loyal, regular customers – in this case, supporters of the football club, a large percentage of whom are clearly very unhappy with Dr Allam’s proposal.
“You can still call them Hull City if you want, so it doesn’t matter!”
Picture this: it’s August 2014. The first day of the new Premier League season. The announcer bellows, “This is the KC Stadium, the home of Hull Tigers!” as Tom Huddlestone, Shane Long, Sone Aluko and co run out onto the pitch, wearing their shirts emblazoned with “Hull Tigers” badges.
During the game, the scoreboard shows the score for Hull Tigers. Whenever an announcement for a substitution is made, it mentions who’s coming on for Hull Tigers. At halftime, you browse your Hull Tigers matchday programme. When you get home, Final Score gives the result for Hull Tigers, and shows where Hull Tigers are in the league table. That night, on Match Of The Day, Gary Lineker introduces the highlights of the Hull Tigers game. That’s followed by an interview with Hull Tigers manager Steve Bruce and some analysis of how well Hull Tigers played.
And if, for the first time in our 110-year history, we finally win a major trophy, what name is engraved on the cup? You got it: Hull Tigers.
For a while – perhaps a decade or more – the City songs persist. But gradually they die out. After all, it seems silly to sing “City Till I Die” and “We Are Hull City” when the official name of the club is Hull Tigers.
You might keep calling them Hull City. But what will your grandchildren call them?
“I’d rather be Hull Tigers in the Premier League than Hull City in the Conference!”
It’s not a choice between one or the other! We are currently in the Premier League, and we got there with the name Hull City. The same was true in 2008.
Changing our name will not magically guarantee Premier League success any more than keeping our name will doom us to tumbling down the divisions.
“We’ll only find out for sure if a name change will work by trying it – so let’s try it!”
So in order to test a theory, you’re willing to spend a fortune on rebranding everything to do with the club, in the process alienating thousands of existing loyal “customers”?
This is rather like testing whether you can fly by jumping out of the window.
Here’s a better idea. Hire a market research company. Send them to Asia to carry out focus groups. Ask people, “What do you think of the name Hull City? Now, what do you think of Hull Tigers? Would you be more likely to support the club or buy its merchandise if the name was changed?”
A sensible businessman would base a decision this important on as much hard data as possible, rather than just following a hunch. But when City Till We Die met Dr Allam on 1 November 2013, he told us that he had not done a single scrap of research into the potential benefits of a name change.
“They flippin’ love tigers in Asia! Changing our name to Hull Tigers will sell thousands of replica shirts in the far East!”
Clubs like Manchester United have large followings overseas because they have been successful over a sustained period of time; because they win trophies, sign big-name players, and get major media coverage. Hull City is quite some way from reaching that stage.
Furthermore, when people in China do buy football shirts, they invariably buy counterfeits, which make no money for English clubs.
There’s also a very strong argument that what people overseas really buy into are the history and traditions of English football. From an Asian point of view, names like “City”, “United” and “County” are exotic. In the USA, the latest club to join the MLS is a team in Orlando, called… you guessed it, Orlando City.
“These campaigners are just a load of young hotheads. Angry young men and troublemakers, the lot of ‘em!”
At the time of writing, City Till We Die has 1699 members. Barring about 40 people who signed up offline, everyone has given us their date of birth, which means we have a detailed breakdown of the age range of our membership. It looks like this:
Under 18: 7.2%
47.48% of our membership is over 40.
Still not convinced? Okay, how about our Facebook followers? The Insights page for www.facebook.com/NoToHullTigers gives us a breakdown of everyone who’s “liked” our page by age group. The figures currently look like this:
As you’d expect for social media, that skews a little younger. Still, even on Facebook, 41.4% of our supporters are over 35.
“Where were all these campaigners when just 2,000 people were going to Boothferry Park?”
Well, many of them were at Boothferry Park, amongst that 2000! Some of them have been going to every game for decades. Some of them were only going to games occasionally. Some hadn’t been born yet. And yes, some were alive, but hadn’t yet caught the City bug.
Here’s the important thing: exactly the same can be said for people who do not object to the name change.
The issue of Hull City’s name isn’t a “Who’s the best supporter?” competition. There are loyal fans on both sides of the argument. Check our public statements: City Till We Die has never claimed otherwise.
Our campaign is an inclusive one, open to all Hull City supporters, no matter how long they’ve followed the club, and no matter what level of commitment they’re able to make. Whether you’re a hardcore Boothferry Park stalwart or an occasional fan who’s only recently discovered the joys of following City, if you think changing our club’s name is wrong, then we’re happy to welcome you to the fold.
“It’s just a small minority – a few hundred people!”
If that’s the case, why have 12,000 people taken our No To Hull Tigers badges?
Perhaps those 12,000 people just like shiny things?
If that’s the case, why have over 15,000 people signed our petition?
If that’s the case, why are over 6,000 people following us on Twitter?
If that’s the case, why have over 3,000 people signed our giant flag?
If that’s the case, why have thousands of people taken one of our “Say No To Hull Tigers” postcards to post to the FA?
“It’s just a small minority – 1,700 people!”
This is confusing membership with support. At the last count, the Conservative Party had 134,000 members. But at the last general election, they received a popular vote of 10,703,654.
Our 1,700 official members (sign up at www.citytillwedie.com/membership) are, no doubt, the people most actively engaged in our campaign. You could call those people our “activist base”. But there are a great many more people who agree with us.
People support our campaign in many different ways. Not everyone feels comfortable with joining a group, or even singing a song. Some wear a badge. Some sign a petition; some don’t believe there’s any point in signing a petition! Everyone shows their support in the way they feel comfortable.
Are we a majority? Well, since Dr Allam refused our request to hold a ballot of all season ticket holders to democratically determine what Hull City supporters as a whole want, we can’t prove that for certain. Odd that, given that he’s so certain we’re a tiny minority – if he’s so confident, why not call our bluff and shut us up? But every poll conducted so far suggests that our view is the majority view – including the Official Supporters Club poll, despite the fact it was carried out immediately after Dr Allam threatened to “walk away” from the club.
“City Till We Die are a load of Luddites who’d be happier if the club was in League One! They don’t want it to be a success!”
On the contrary: we’re thrilled to see Hull City competing in the top level of English football, and we’re very keen to stay there. Just not at the expense of our club’s history, or our integrity.
We’d be very happy to see the club marketing itself more successfully overseas, and acquiring more international supporters. We love following Hull City; why would we want to deny that pleasure to others?
We simply don’t think that rebranding the club as “Hull Tigers” is necessary to achieve that. We already have striking shirt colours and a nickname that’s one of the best in English football: The Tigers. Let’s market the hell out of that!
“If it was down to these people we’d have never left Boothferry Park for the KC Stadium.”
Despite the deeply felt affection for Boothferry Park felt by thousands of Hull City supporters, there was no organised campaign against the move to the KC, for one very simple reason: the benefits of leaving a run-down ground and moving to a new state-of-the-art stadium were crystal clear.
The same cannot be said of the proposed name change, as Dr Allam has failed to make a proper case for change to supporters.
“These people have a lust for power! They want to take over the club!”
There’s only one reason why City Till We Die has discussed the idea of a revitalised Supporters’ Trust taking a share in the ownership of the club. That’s because Dr Allam himself asked us to explore it further.
When our representatives met with Dr Allam on 1 November 2013, it soon became apparent that he was not responsive to arguments about history or tradition. The only thing he was interested in were alternative revenue streams. When we discussed the possibility of a role for supporters, he responded with great interest, and asked us to explore the idea further.
This is nothing new. In November 2010, when Dr Allam was finalising his takeover of the club, he told the Hull Daily Mail, “My vision is for Hull City to be owned 40% by local business owners from Hull and 60% the fans.” (Source: http://www.hulldailymail.co.uk/Undefined-Headline/story-11957207-detail/story.html)