When are City fans not City fans? When they’re Hull City Tigers fans

Owner’s decision to ‘rebrand’ football club has split fans of Premier League new boys

If their beloved club had been called “common” or “lousy” by rival fans, Hull City fans would be able to brush off the insult – they are too excited about Premier League football returning to their stadium. Unfortunately for them, it’s the club’s chairman who has decided the team’s name isn’t classy enough – and has dismayed traditionalists by announcing he is to rebrand them as Hull Tigers.

While the club has long used the nickname due to their black and amber kit, Assem Allam’s announcement in a local newspaper that it will be adopted officially has led to outrage among some of the fans – who steadfastly call their team “City”.

The Yorkshire team has been registered as Hull City Association Football Club for more than a century but will drop the AFC suffix and be referred to nationally and internationally as Hull Tigers – only being known as Hull City Tigers locally as a compromise.

The move to overhaul the club’s identity comes down to plans from the owners to market it globally, as they need to “strengthen the brand identity”.

“Hull City is irrelevant,” Mr Allam told the Hull Daily Mail. “My dislike for the word ‘City’ is because it is common. City is also associated with Leicester, Bristol, Manchester and many other clubs. I don’t like being like everybody else.”

He said: “It is about identity. City is a lousy identity. Hull City Association Football is so long.”

The news comes less than a month after Nick Thompson, Hull City’s managing director, assured those fans on local radio that the club would not be renamed, claiming just the business name would be changed to Hull City Tigers. Yesterday he urged the supporters to judge the change “in the fullness of time”.

Chris Ashton, chairman of the Hull City Official Supporters Club, described the actions of the owners as like “dropping a grenade and walking away”. The site is carrying out a poll of the fans and will take the results to the owners. “They won’t change their minds,” he said. “It’s all business now, it isn’t football like we used to remember.

Tom Collins, a lifelong fan, said it was a “dreadful situation”. He continued: “There had been rumblings, and today is really saddening. There was so much opposition and they changed the name anyway.

“It’s tacky and awful. I don’t care what other fans think about us, but we’ve been panned today, and I agree with them. This is indefensible.”

Mr Collins added that he was looking into a refund for his season ticket.

The rebranding will be phased in throughout the year. AFC will remain on the shirts for the coming season before it is dropped for the following campaign.

However, on a poll running on the Hull City Official Supporters Club website, it appeared the fans are split over the name change – with the majority favouring it.

Of the 1,132 who had voted by lunchtime yesterday, 610 were for the change, 508 against – the rest were indifferent.

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