SPORTSDESK COMMENT: City progress spoiled by Tigers brand row

editorial image

It is strange to think that only a few years ago I was watching Scarborough Football Club battle against the likes of Hull City, Carlisle United and Hartlepool, to avoid the drop out of the league and down into the Conference.

It is amazing to see how Hull have risen through the divisions since that 1998-99 season, in stark contrast to the former Boro dropping down to Conference North before folding and the emergence of the new fans-run club, Scarborough Athletic.

The Hull fans are enjoying their return to the Premier League this season, but their solid form has been somewhat overshadowed by their owner’s plans and comments.

Owner Assem Allam, who took control of the club in 2010 when Hull were still in the Championship, stated his intentions to phase out the ‘City’ from their name and replace it with a Tigers brand.

This has sparked protest among the City faithful and matters came to a head last weekend, when Allem was quoted in The Independent as saying: “They can die as soon as they want, as long as they leave the club for the majority who just want to watch good football.”

If the 74-year-old Egyptian-born businessman was expecting this to quell the fury of the fans he was sorely mistaken as they displayed banners and sung in support of the Hull City name during the 3-1 home win against Liverpool on Sunday afternoon.

I have to admit to feeling a bit sorry for manager Steve Bruce and his players as they have done well in their first season back in the top flight, and a cracking display to win against the Reds was overshadowed by the fall-out from the owner’s comments.

Bruce, unsurprisingly, defended his boss Allam, trying to say that his comments were misinterpreted.

His defending on the pitch when he was a Manchester United player was a lot more solid than this particular effort where he trotted out a theory that Allam’s comments had been misinterpreted.

One thing that owners need to appreciate is the devotion that fans attribute to a name, and there is also the small matter of the FA having to ratify any name-change of a club.

Allam obviously has a passion for the club as he has recruited an experienced boss such as Bruce, strengthen his squad and get them to the Premier League, and he has stated he merely wants to make the club more marketable by calling them Tigers.

A final decision is set to be made next year about any potential renaming of the 109-year-old club, so this saga is set to run and run.

From a personal view I think that most Boro fans, like myself, would gladly swap with a Hull fan when you look at the way the two clubs’ fortunes have gone since 1999, especially when you drive or walk past where the old ground used to stand.