LONDON: The Football Association is set to consult fans before deciding whether to accept a proposal to rename Hull City as ‘Hull Tigers’ from the start of next season.
Hull owner Assem Allam has met with fierce opposition from supporters ever since he first mooted the idea of ditching the 109-year-old moniker of Hull City AFC in the summer.
But the Egyptian businessman, who has invested around £70million in the club since he bought it on the brink of administration in 2010, insists the rebranding process will increase commercial interest overseas and help draw new sponsorship.
In the face of strong opposition, Hull have formally applied to the FA to adopt Hull Tigers as the team’s playing name, and opponents to the change may be boosted by confirmation that the governing body intends to include fans in its deliberation process.
A statement released on Thursday evening read: “The FA can confirm that it has received a request from Hull City to change its playing name to Hull Tigers from season 2014/15.
“Requests to change a playing name of a club are considered under FA Rule A3 (l) and require the prior written permission of the FA Council.
“As part of the evaluation of the request a consultation process will be undertaken with various stakeholders including supporter groups.
“At present the FA is not able to provide a timescale for the completion of the consultation process and does not expect to make any further comment until the assessment of the request has been completed.”
It seems certain that supporter group will make their opposition to the change plain, with the City Till We Die organisation having earlier issued its own statement calling on the FA to reject Allam’s application.
It read: “We remain confident that, with the eyes of the whole footballing world upon them, the FA will make the right decision, and act to protect not only the heritage and traditions of Hull City AFC, but also those of other clubs whose identities may come under threat in the future.
“This issue matters for all football supporters, not just the people of Hull, and the decision the FA makes will set a very important precedent.”
Manager Steve Bruce has become increasingly frustrated with the situation as the season has progressed, with the row often overshadowing a highly impressive return to the top flight.
Although the FA said no timeframe had yet been set for a decision, Bruce appeared to believe no verdict would be forthcoming before April and pleaded for all concerned to get behind the team until that time.
He said: “The application has been done. It’s been lodged and I can ask of the supporters is to get behind the team. We’re not going to hear the decision until April. As far as I’m concerned let’s all get on with it and see what the FA come up with.
“Anything else just gets in the road of my important job which is to beat Stoke on Saturday. I hope now for the next five months it goes away. The job is hard enough as a newly promoted team. The last thing we want as a team is to have distractions and to get embroiled in things us as a team can’t do anything about.
“I think the fans are delighted with everything that’s going on at the club – in terms of on the pitch – and it’s important it stays that way.”
Supporters Direct believe the club’s fans are justified in making their dissent public.
A spokesman said: “As an organisation, Supporters Direct believes that football clubs are something different, something special. The relationship between fans and their clubs transcends normal loyalties. So, like most of you, we’ve been angry at what is happening at Hull City AFC.
“The very identity of football clubs, and their fans and communities, are simply too important to be entrusted to temporary owners, who are generally more interested in what they can take out of a club rather than what they can put back in, and whose decision-making does not take account of the wider interests of those who count their loyalty in tens of years and generations.”