Hull City A.F.C. It’s been that way since 1904. Their nickname is ‘The Tigers’. On such things tradition, history and values are built.
Now, Hull have now become “Hull City Tigers”. If the owner had his way, it would be just “Hull Tigers”. This is the latest in a long line of examples of history giving way to cold hard cash.
Why has the name of the club been changed? Global marketing of course. It doesn’t matter at all that the legions of fans who have followed Hull City A.F.C through the decades aren’t happy.
Nor does it matter that you are tearing up over a century of history. No, because what matters is that “it gives you science in the power of marketing” explained Hull’s owner Assem Allam. This sadly is modern football.
The owner believes that “Tigers” is a more unique, powerful, individual name, than common old “City”. The fact that there are numerous other sporting clubs named “Tigers”, including Leicester Tigers, Castleford Tigers, Chittagong Tigers and the Detroit Tigers, seems to have been lost on Mr Allam.
“Hull Tigers” sound much more like an NFL side than an English football club. Perhaps that is the aim. A snappier, catchier club name. The difference between NFL teams and English Football teams is that the American teams are franchises. They are not teams from one city.
They are not isolated or historically attached to a geographical area. They can be picked up and based somewhere entirely different. Try picking “The Tigers” up and moving them from Hull to Ipswich without angering the clubs supporters. They are angry enough with simply a change of name.
It is a cause for concern though that if the place name can be stripped from a club, what is to stop owners from relocating their side away from the city or town in which it has always been based?
There has been significant anger from Coventry City supporters over the clubs move to play their ‘home’ games in Northampton as a result of a dispute over rent with the stadium owners.
Many fans boycotted their first ‘home’ game of the season in protest at having to play Coventry City home games outside of Coventry. It is an example of just how important tradition and history of football clubs mean to supporters.
It is crucial to be able to identify certain traits and characteristics of your club that makes it stand out from the rest. Increasingly, such historical values are being cast aside in favour of the commercialisation of modern football.
Stadium names are perhaps the most prominent example of such changes. It is rare in the modern game to find stadiums who aren’t named after commercial sponsors. The Etihad, The Emirates, The Britannia and even Colchester's Weston Homes Community Stadium.
It used to be that fans could identify themselves with their ground, the name of that ground throughout the history of their club. No longer is that the case.
Traditional colours of clubs are being removed, in favour of colours which enable them to be more marketable to foreign audiences. The most famous example in recent times is obviously Cardiff. Forever known as ‘The Bluebirds’, Cardiff were a side famed for being blue.
Along come Asian owners and all that history is cast aside. They became “The Dragons” and began wearing red, as that was a lucky colour in Asia and so made them more marketable to that audience. Fans views were again irrelevant.
Of course football is all about money. It is understandable that clubs want to use every trick they can to boost the image of their club and draw in extra finance. You get nowhere in football without cash.
Manchester United would probably get an official toilet roll provider if they thought more money could be made from it. It is just the way football is.
Sadly, the side effect of that is that fans and loyal supporters are overlooked and short changed time and time again. Owners no longer see hard working people who turn out week in week out to support their club, through thick and thin, good times and bad.
They see customers, consumers, people who they can bleed dry and boost their own fortunes in the process. They don’t care if Newcastle fans don’t want the name of the stadium changing.
They don’t care if Southampton fans want their side to play in red and white stripes as they always have. Local fans are insignificant in the wider money making scheme.
Football clubs though are nothing without such supporters. If such supporters walked away from the stadium every Saturday and refused to purchase official merchandise, those owners would soon feel the pinch in their wallets.
The values and heritage of our football clubs are slowly but surely being eroded. It is crucial that fans do not allow this to happen.
Hull will always be Hull City A.F.C to their supporters and rightly so. Money talks sure, but the fans are who matter to every football club. It is time fans stopped taking this from the club owners and made a stand. If that happened, fans would become far more of a priority to owners than they are right now.
Identity of a club is all important. In the modern football world it is becoming lost. No longer can fans look at their club and see the history that has always been there. For many foreign owners, their clubs are a train set they can play with how they wish.
For towns and cities across the land, those clubs are the focal point of the community, with traditions and values that make it the club that it is. These must be preserved, for the sake of the national sport.
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