New correspondent Harry Drew casts his eye over an eventful week at Hull City AFC.
The week began with significant news for City fans. On Monday, an independent tribunal published their judgement – a wordy 30 page document, which can be found here – on the club’s appeal against the FA Council’s ruling in April of last year, which blocked the renaming of Hull City A.F.C. This decision, in the eyes of the tribunal, could not stand. The official club website declared victory in a short statement, “having proved successfully that the process adopted by the FA was unfair and biased.”
While the owners have been successful in the sense that they are free to reapply for a name change to ‘Hull Tigers’ for the 2015/16 season, three things stand out. First, the club is still called Hull City A.F.C. Second, the tribunal makes clear that the original case for a name change “was neither convincing nor compelling.” Third, and most damningly, the FA are incredibly critical of the club’s consultation (or lack of) with fans, accusing them of seeing supporters as “irrelevant, or barely relevant, until a very late stage.” Given this, the club’s claim to have ‘won’ seems dubious in the extreme.
Things were further complicated on Tuesday when Assem Allam appeared to suggest that the club did not need to reapply to the FA for a rebranding of City’s name. The deadline for any new application (which Allam insisted would never happen) is April 1st – it remains to be seen what action, if any, the club will take before then. Ian Ashbee voiced concern in the Express that the whole thing was taking attention away from the goal of Premier League survival. HCST issued a statement on Thursday, urging the owners to drop the name change, surely a sensible proposition for all concerned.
Another off-the-pitch matter dominated City news during the week with the controversy surrounding the Airco Arena. The Stadium Management Company gave a month’s eviction notice to several local amateur sports clubs after Assem Allam expressed his intent to install a new indoor pitch to be used by City’s academy. Hull City Council leader Steve Brady said he expects the local clubs who currently use the arena to be able to do so “for the foreseeable future”, and urged Allam to seek a compromise. A petition against the SMC’s eviction notice has almost 5,000 supporters.
There are several international call-ups for City players for the games taking place over the next few days: for the Republic of Ireland, Robbie Brady, Paul McShane, David Meyler and Stephen Quinn; for Uruguay, Abel Hernandez and Gaston Ramirez; Allan McGregor and Andy Robertson are in the Scotland squad; with Maynor Figueroa and Dame N’Doye in the Honduras and Senegal squads respectively. You have to think that coming out of the internationals with no injuries will be crucial for City.
And talking of injuries, there was pretty devastating news on Thursday when the club announced Nikica Jelavic will be out for at least six weeks. Surgery on a long-term knee problem means Jelavic will miss most (if not all) of City’s remaining games. Being City’s top goal scorer by a long way, and having been forming a fruitful partnership with Dame N’Doye in recent weeks, the importance of his absence can’t be overstated. Step up £10 million man Abel Hernandez!
Hernandez was one of City’s goal scorers in the 3-2 defeat to Chelsea on Sunday. A brave effort, but no points, which is pretty much all that counts at this point in the season. Steve Bruce was upbeat post-match, telling Sky Sports “That’s probably the best performance we’ve produced in the 18 months we’ve been in the Premier League.” Considering his side were playing the champions in-waiting, it’s difficult to disagree. Other results over the weekend went City’s way, meaning they remain in 15th and three points above the relegation zone.
Finally, there appears to be the potential for an amusing yet bizarre row between Steve Bruce and… Piers Morgan. The latter had accused Tom Ince, on loan from City to Derby, of ‘treason’ with his decision to rule himself out of the England U21 squad for the upcoming friendlies and European Championship in the summer. Bruce responded with a dig at the infamous story ran by the Daily Mirror in 2004, when Morgan was editor, which falsely depicted British soldiers abusing an Iraqi prisoner, saying “that was more treason”. Arsenal fan Morgan took to Twitter and, predictably, mentioned the Gunners’ win over City in last year’s FA Cup final. Heartbreaking.