Hull TigersThink tinpot and a few teams instantly spring to mind. Doncaster Rovers, for signing a One Direction band member in a shameless publicity stunt. Cardiff City, for totally re-branding the club to appeal to people in Asia (who I suspect, still don’t care). And of course, MK Dons, for the franchise nature of their existence.

All three are perfect examples of how far a club is willing to go to make money. In Doncaster Rovers’ case, they’re not even trying to sell the football any more, they’ve given up completely and instead decided to attached themselves to some god-awful manufactured pop star and ride his coattails to the bank. Shameless stuff.

It makes you wonder just how far football is willing to go to make a few extra quid. At Leeds United recently, there’s been some speculation linking us to investment from Red Bull, the global drinks manufacturer whose investment model generally involves the complete rebranding of a club to match their corporate identity. Along with a change to Red Bull’s colours, a name change is usually included too. Austria Salzburg became Red Bull Salzburg, the New York MetroStars became New York Red Bull and SSV Markranstädt became RB Leipzig. All with matching kits and badges featuring the Red Bull logo and the name of the town/city below.

While most of the speculation at Leeds centred on stadium sponsorship, there was some concern Red Bull would attempt to take over the club in the mid to long-term, stripping us of our identity and adding us to the aforementioned collection of teams you’d struggle to separate in a line-up.

What really disturbed me was how many fans didn’t mind the idea of Red Bull Leeds. “Don Revie changed our club colours, no one minded that” some reasoned. Others didn’t care how or where the money came from, they just wanted success. At any cost, it seemed.

Step forward Hull City Tigers. The product of growing fan apathy and a willingness to accept any consequences, so long as the owners can sugar-coat them enough to make fans believe they’re a necessary evil of success.

Their owner, Assem Allam, did the sugar-coating;

“I have always used short names in business. It gives you power in the science in marketing. The shorter, the more powerful the message. In Tigers, we have a really strong brand.”

In this case, “really strong brand” is code for “mountains of cash” but he doesn’t explain how giving your team a cheesy name actually achieves that. Doesn’t a really strong brand usually grow from success? Manchester United aren’t known the world over because they have a devil on their crest, they aggressively grew their brand on the back of success they’d achieved.

“It is about identity. ‘City’ is a lousy identity. Hull City Association Football Club is so long.”

Manchester City must be scrambling for a re-brand upon hearing such words of wisdom from the Hull City Association Football Club Tigers owner. How on earth will they break into a global market and become successful with such a “common” and “lousy” identity?

Head of Hull City’s Official Supporters’ Club, Bernard Noble, admitted disappointment but manages to reason with the decision and suggests little action will be taken on the fans’ part;

“My personal opinion is I’m disappointed because I’m a bit of a traditionalist,

“But this guy saved us from liquidation and administration and it’s his club. I will still say ‘I’m going to watch City’, ‘I’m going to watch the Tigers’, ‘I’m going to watch Hull’. I will still say that and so will many other people.

“As far as Hull City Tigers is concerned, the fans – the 25,000 people who will be there for the first home game against Norwich – they’ll say ‘I’m off down to watch City’.”

Where once you’d have expected to hear fans up in arms after finding out their club had been renamed without consultation, here you have the head of a supporters’ group ready to accept the decision and move on.

His response can be shortened to “well, he saved us so we have to be thankful and accept the consequences.” No you don’t.

Such levels of apathy is what ruined the English game, supporters sitting back and refusing to do anything when the powers-that-be effect changes that you don’t agree with. It’s easier to reason with the changes and accept that’s “just how football is today,” but football is only heading in this direction because fans are allowing it to.

The reason I’ve been so impressed with Salah Nooruddin, Leeds United’s new chairman, is because he genuinely seems to understand the way football clubs should be run. Leeds United’s fans “are de facto owners” of the club, he reasoned, describing himself and GFH Capital as little more than caretakers, here to help guide the club back towards the promised land.

All football clubs should be run in consultation with the fans, just like they are in the hugely successful German Bundesliga. Like Allem, Nooruddin and GFH Capital came from an entirely different culture, but they’d seen the consequences of running the club as a dictatorship. The unpopular decisions Ken Bates made led fans to boycott Elland Road en masse, protests were staged on several occasions and the mood around the place was rarely conducive to success.

Ultimately, Ken Bates was forced to sell, Nooruddin and GFH Capital arrived, reversed the unpopular decisions he’d made and Elland Road was once again a place of harmony. All this was marked by the highest opening day attendance in 10 years.

Not all Hull City fans are so accepting of the changes, it has to be said. The Twitter account @Hull_Tigers was immediately set-up to RT the thoughts of those angered by the re-brand, but you fear they’ll be overwhelmed by the majority of supporters who can’t be bothered doing anything about it.

What must be remembered as we continue on this path towards the total Americanisation of football is that fans do have the power to effect change. The club-fan relationship is a symbiotic one, they need you as much as you need them. Commercialisation is an unfortunate necessity of the modern game, but lines have to be drawn somewhere. No one ever suggested Manchester United rename themselves the Manchester Red Devils because their fans simply wouldn’t accept it. Hull City Association Football Club Tigers fans don’t have to either.


PS. While I have a great deal of sympathy for the fans who respect and want to preserve the history of their club, a part of me can’t help but think you brought this on yourselves…