Belfast Telegraph

Allam undeterred by Tigers backlash

Hull owner Assem Allam is to press ahead with his rebranding of the club as Hull City Tigers, despite the move being met with consternation by supporters.

Egyptian-born businessman Allam revealed the decision in an interview with the Hull Daily Mail on Friday morning.

Hull will do away with the Association Football Club (AFC) moniker which has been part of the Yorkshire club's name since their formation in 1904.

Allam, who took charge of the club in 2010, told the Hull Daily Mail that he viewed the word City as "common", "irrelevant" and a "lousy identity".

He instead wants to market the club as Hull City Tigers locally and Hull Tigers to national and international audiences.

"Hull City is irrelevant," said Allam, who took over the Tigers in 2010 following their relegation from the top flight and whose investment is credited with saving the club from a significant financial crisis.

"My dislike for the word 'City' is because it is common. City is also associated with Leicester, Bristol, Manchester and many other clubs. I don't like being like everyone else. I want the club to be special.

"It is about identity. City is a lousy identity. Hull City Association Football Club is so long. In Tigers, we have a really strong brand."

The club later released a statement in response to coverage of the rebrand, and confirmed plans for a new club crest to be introduced in time for the 2014-15 campaign.

It read: "The business name at Companies House had its 'Association Football Club' suffix removed in the spring of this year, leaving the club to be named 'Hull City Tigers Ltd'. This will now be used in official club statements, regarding any of our commercial operations.

"The Tigers brand, with its powerful imagery, will be used in international markets to attract new interest and attention in both Hull and the East Riding from a worldwide audience.

"As has always been the case, supporters remain free to refer to the club as they wish, whether that be Hull City, City, Tigers, Black and Amber, or indeed any other variant of the club's name. For many, the club will continue to be known as Hull City, as it has been from its inception.

"A new badge, to be used from the 2014/15 season, will be designed and created in consultation with fans over the coming months."

The latter move is sure to also raise concerns, given the controversy over Everton's redesign this summer of their historic club crest.

Hull's fellow top-flight newcomers Cardiff are also no strangers to a crowd backlash after last year's decision to change the club colours from blue to red.

And Allam's plan for Hull has been met with anger by many supporters, who feel the club's 109-year history has been disrespected.

A poll on the Facebook page of the Hull City Official Supporters' Club which asked fans if they were for, against or indifferent to the plans saw fans overwhelmingly opposed to the idea.

Prominent Hull City blogger Rick Skelton was among those to express dissent.

He wrote: "We are not a major club in England, let alone the world. That won't change with rebranding. It would only change with sustained success. So this is a pointless exercise.

"Mr Allam's assertion that the name 'Hull City' is irrelevant, that it's too common, is as disgusting a use of the English language as his new name for the club.

"It's not irrelevant, it's been the name of the club for 109 years and it matters to people.

"Those people, the fans, have fought to save Hull City numerous times down the years. It may only be a name to Mr Allam but to us, it's the name of something we love, we've cherished and will be cherished long after the current owners.

"The saddest part of all that is that this has come at a time when fans should be excited for top-flight football, not angry at a ridiculous rebrand.

"And the feeling towards the Allam family - who have done wonderful things for our club and our City - should be one of fondness not fury."

The Allams' plan did, however, receive cautious support from Bernard Noble of the Hull City Official Supporters' Club.

"My personal opinion is I'm disappointed because I'm a bit of a traditionalist," he told BBC Radio 5 Live. "But this guy saved us from liquidation and administration and it's his club.

"As far as Hull City Tigers is concerned, the fans - the 25,000 people who will be there for the first home game against Norwich - they'll say 'I'm off down to watch City'.

"There will be disappointment there but I think we will realise that going into the Premier League we want to be a bit different, and he wants to be that bit different to get the business up and running."

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