The Hull City owner Assem Allam has revealed he put the club up for sale less than a day after his controversial “Tigers” rebrand was rejected and that he has also appealed against that verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The 75-year-old Egyptian, who in December last year told the Independent on Sunday he would sell the club if the name change was blocked, made a rare appearance in front of the media yesterday to “clear the air” after rumours that he had already completed a sale. But he appeared to confirm he was running two entirely opposite courses of action simultaneously.
Allam had put Hull on the market on 10 April, just 22 hours after the Football Association Council threw out the plan to rename the club Hull Tigers. He will remain if successful in his appeal.
With a touch of flippancy somewhat at odds with a personal investment ranging between £70m and £100m, he declared his preferred outcome “whichever comes first” and would “give it away” if neither proved successful.
Allam spoke for more than 45 minutes, littering his oration with obscure metaphors and non-sequiturs, but the hard information came in a prepared statement at the beginning. In it, he said: “I’ve decided it’s better to clear the air. We stated earlier this year that the club would be for sale if our attempt to globally promote Hull Tigers as a brand name and playing name be blocked.
“As a consequence of the FA’s decision on 9 April I announced on 10 April that Hull City is for sale – the club, not the [city] council.
“I am using the wording Hull City now to show respect to the FA decision. This announcement is in accordance with my decision 10 months ago that I would walk away within 24 hours. In actual fact it was 22 hours. When I say something I mean it. I don’t call bluffs.
“We have also begun the appeal against the FA decision via arbitration and we are hopeful of a positive outcome or that the FA reconsider their decision. Until the conclusion of that appeal or the sale, whichever comes first, we will remain fully committed to the club. If the appeal comes first: OK, no harm done. If the sale comes first: sold.”
Despite saving the club from financial oblivion when he took over in 2010 and overseeing the most successful period in its history over the past season, Allam’s single-minded focus on the rebrand has led to antipathy from some sections of the fan base.
A protest group called City Till We Die have taken up the cause with particular vehemence and chants of “We say no Allam, we say no” still go up at home games after 19 minutes and four seconds – timed to represent the founding year of the club, 1904.
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