HULL CITY owners Assem and Ehab Allam are facing a backlash from supporters angered by their plans to change the name of the club to Hull City Tigers.
The club, about to kick off only its third season in the Premier League, has been Hull City AFC since its inception in 1904, but in a newspaper interview, Egyptian-born businessman Assem Allam called the name Hull City “irrelevant”, and said he disliked the name City because it was “common”.
He also indicated a preference for the name “Hull Tigers”.
Fans are incensed, however, saying they have not been consulted, and are already talking of organised protests, including boycotting matches, refusing to buy club merchandise, and seeking a refund on season tickets bought under the old name.
Others fear the row will overshadow today’s testimonial match against Real Betis for club stalwart Andy Dawson .
Andy Dalton, editor of the City fanzine Amber Nectar, called the move “reprehensible vandalism”.
He said: “I’m absolutely furious. The one solitary good thing is at least they have stopped lying about it.
“It’s absolutely reprehensible vandalism of 109 years of history and heritage.
“There will be protests, whether that’s not buying merchandise or even asking for a refund on season tickets because they were bought for Hull City, not some mythical identity called ‘Hull City Tigers’.
“Obviously something will be done because feelings are running so high.”
The Allams took over the club in 2010 and are credited with rescuing it from financial meltdown.
But they have previously caused disquiet after suggesting the club could be moved to Melton in the East Riding, and have publicly clashed with Hull Council over its refusal to sell the KC Stadium, also home of rugby league club Hull FC, to the football club.
Mr Dalton said there was now a real risk of alienating supporters.
“They could be such good owners and held in high regard, but they seem to do one great thing and then wipe that out with something crass. They don’t seem to think things through properly.
“The people who have saved the club are people you want to admire and revere, but they make it impossible,” he said.
Chris Smith, media and marketing manager at Hull City Official Supporters’ Club, said the supporters club wanted to consult its members before giving an official response.
But speaking as a City fan of 50 years, he said: “It’s very upsetting. There’s been no consultation and the change has been done by stealth.
“I was at the KC yesterday with other fans being quizzed by Hull University on the subject of how the club could be marketed better, and my opinion is the word of the club, both nationally and internationally, is spread by success on the field and not by changing the name.
“Manchester United are not called Manchester Red Devils and they don’t call Tottenham Hotspur Tottenham Cockerels.”
He added: “The timing is unfortunate. Tomorrow is a big occasion for Andy Dawson after 10 years at the club.
“He is very well respected by the fans and it’s going to be overshadowed by this controversy.
“It was supposed to be a day of celebration so we could give our thanks to Andy.”
Hull-born writer and City fan Russ Litten said: “It’s not a tin of beans, it’s a football club. If he thinks he can sacrifice heritage and tradition for brand values he clearly knows nothing about football.”
Neither Mr Allam or his son Ehab were available for interview yesterday.
The club said in a statement: “In response to comments made following a recent interview, the Club would like to clarify its formal identity.
“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.”