Bruce is caught in middle of Hull row with fans

Hull City manager Steve Bruce
Hull City manager Steve Bruce
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STEVE BRUCE has acknowledged that he faces an impossible task attempting to find some middle ground as the row over Hull City’s proposed name change intensifies.

The Tigers boss has been the unwitting casualty in the whole saga, which took another twist on Wednesday when the club formally applied to change its name to Hull Tigers with the FA Council.

Owner Assem Allam’s decision to officially inform the FA of his intentions has been met with a strong and emotional response from fans group wholly opposed to his plans, with the issue clouding a home Premier League game for the second match running.

On the morning of the televised clash with Liverpool at the KC Stadium on December 1, controversial comments from Allam in a national newspaper regarding supporters protesting against his proposals inflamed an already tense situation.

Following the fresh developments, fans groups have pledged to let their feelings be known in no uncertain terms for the second time in just under a fortnight in front of the watching millions as they display their objections to Allam, who had last month said that no decision would be made on the name-change issue until 2014.

Bruce is effectively caught between a rock and a hard place, although he has totally dismissed any suggestions he might consider walking away from the club because of the issue when questioned by some sections of the media yesterday.

Hull and Allam are expected to be informed by the FA of their decision in April with Bruce, while appreciating the passion that the emotive issue has evoked among supporters, mindful of Allam’s role in putting the club back on the map and regenerating it significantly by pumping millions of pounds into it.

On whether he feels like he has an impossible task to placate all sides and keep a lid on the issue while he concentrates on ensuring Hull’s top-flight status, he said: “Yes, but I’ve got to try and be the middle man. I don’t really enjoy sitting on the fence.

“I think it’s always best to be truthful, but there’s arguments that we can all see for both sides.

“But I’ve said enough on it now. It’s gone to the FA and there’ll be a hearing in April. Let’s hope it goes to bed and we can just all concentrate on winning on Saturday, which is, what I’ve always said, the most important thing.

“For me, for the brand and for everything else concerned, it’s vital that we maintain our Premier League status. That’s what all my efforts are focused upon, rather than any distraction.

“If I was younger I might get embroiled in it, but not now.”

Bruce has held several discussions on the issue with Allam and has heard enough to know that Egyptian-born businessman will not be swayed in his conviction that the club will undergo a name change – regardless of the fervent opposition.

The club’s company name was changed from Hull City AFC to Hull City Tigers in March, with the FA Council having the final say on the club name-change issue.

Under rule 3L, the council can use its ‘absolute discretion’ on whether to approve a new name.

Bruce, who has distanced himself from January reports linking him with Sunderland’s Seb Larsson and Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi, added: “I had a conversation with him, but he’s adamant in his own view that’s what he wants.

“I think I’ve made my views clear on it and if he asked us to play in frilly dresses, we would.

“From a distance, people are thinking he’s just another foreign owner who’s come in here and has got no respect for the people.

“He’s done unbelievable things for this city and for me he should be held high. He’s got certain beliefs that he’s entitled to. Then again, you’ve got to listen to the supporters and take a view.”

Adamant that his players are putting no attention to the issue and will not get side-tracked, Bruce – who has not seen the need to address them on the issue – said: “It’s a big supporters issue more than anything.

“People have supported this club for 50 and 60 years, but I have to stress to them that he (Allam) only believes it’s going to make it better. It’s nothing sinister.

“He just thinks the branding of the club would be better as Hull Tigers. That’s his opinion. Other people have got opinions where they think ‘Hang on a minute, we’ve got to respect the history and tradition.’

“I don’t think he thought there would be a backlash like this. He only wants the club to do well.

“Of course he has his ways, like any successful businessman. I wouldn’t want to pick a fight with him, put it that way. He’s ready for a fight if anything.

“He’s tough but underneath it all he wants the club to do well.

“In three years he’s taken the club from the brink to mid-table in the Premier League.

“I hope we can find a common ground because I’m getting bored senseless with the whole thing.”