Belfast Telegraph

Hull sponsor gives his reasons for pitchside protest before Crystal Palace match

The match sponsor who protested against Hull's owners on Saturday says he did so to show that "the Allams are not untouchable".

John Oxley, whose company Wolds Engineering Service Limited was the main match sponsor, used a photoshoot in the KCOM Stadium's centre circle before Saturday's 3-3 draw with Crystal Palace to protest against the club's membership scheme.

Owners Assem and Ehab Allam opted to replace the club's season tickets with a new monthly scheme for this season, which does not feature concessions for either juniors or senior citizens.

Lifelong fan Oxley displayed a banner reading "Bring back concessions. Hull City generation after generation. Allams out" in pictures which circulated widely on social media.

He was ejected from the stadium as a result and told on Sunday: "There was a lot of soul-searching before I did it but it is something I feel that strongly about I felt I had to go through with it."

The Allams' ownership and financial backing has seen the club return to the Premier League but it has not been smooth sailing.

A botched attempt to change the club's name to Hull Tigers and fallings-out with managers Steve Bruce and Nick Barmby have made them unpopular figures with many among the club's support and attendances have dwindled - just 17,403 watched the Palace game.

Oxley said: "I feel there is a bit of apathy among many Hull City fans, it's as if it is accepted that the Allams are untouchable and nothing the fans do will make a difference. I wanted to show that's not the case.

"The situation drives me to despair and I wanted to do something publicly that would put the spotlight on the situation. The national media don't understand the situation and you see them on Match of the Day talking about empty seats, without any real concept of why we have (lower) gates than we did in the old fourth division 10 years ago.

"I've sponsored a game in December for over 10 years now and I knew this was my opportunity, but it wasn't a decision I made easily.

"I was very nervous walking onto the pitch knowing what I was about to do. I'd gone to the extreme of wrapping the banner around myself before we went to the game in case I was searched and then I went to the toilet and took it off and stuffed it in my pocket ready to go on the pitch.

"I took a big risk but hopefully this can kick-start something among the fans again and hopefully raise the profile for City fans and increase the pressure on the owners."


From Belfast Telegraph