HULL, England – A request by the Egyptian owner of Premier League team Hull City to change their name to Hull Tigers is set to be turned down by the English Football Association.
The FA said Monday that its membership committee has recommended that the request be rejected following “consultation with stakeholders within and outside of the game.” The recommendation has been passed to the FA council, which will vote on it at a meeting on April 9.
Hull owner Assem Allam believes a name change will attract investors and boost the club's marketing appeal abroad. In January, he threatened to quit if the FA turned down his request, saying:
“No one on earth is allowed to question my business decisions. I won't allow it.”
Many Hull fans have reacted angrily to Allam's controversial move, unhappy that it removes 109 years of tradition, and have made their feelings known in protests and chants during matches.
Allam has injected about 75 million pounds ($125 million) into the club since 2010, when Hull was in the second-tier League Championship and on the brink of financial ruin.
The team secured a surprise return to the Premier League last season but Allam's desire for a name change has provoked fury among many fans as well as traditionalists in English football.
The backlash intensified when Allam responded to supporters' chants and banners of “City Till We Die” by telling a Sunday newspaper: “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.”
Allam has said the word “City” in the name is “redundant” and “irrelevant,” and that he would prove to be a trailblazer for clubs changing their names “to something more interesting.”
“City, Town, County: these are meaningless,” he told The Guardian newspaper in September. “In marketing, the shorter the name, the more powerful - think of Coca-Cola, Twitter, Apple.”
There was no immediate response from Hull or Allam to the decision of the FA's membership committee. – Sapa-AP