For many Hull City’s re branding as Hull Tigers is just one symptom of everything that’s wrong with modern football, just the word re-branding is enough to ring alarm-bells, along with the reason given that it will stretch the clubs appeal in global markets – ‘Tigers’ being a name essentially free of being tied to one place
But, looking back the change not a move without precedent. A glance, for instance, at the 1894-95 Division Two table reveals several clubs have, to a greater or lesser degree, undergone name changes, among them: Leiscester Fosse, Woolwich Arsenal and Newton Heath
And if the objection is that ‘Tigers’ sounds too, well, too American then there is precedent for this too. The Victorians were particularly fond of imaginative monikers like Fordingbridge Turks, Ringwood Hornets or Portsmouth Sunflowers. The fashion for such names has however, passed leaving us with City and United.
The issue though isn’t so much the name change, but one of democracy and control. When a new regime at Leicester City, fronted by Chairman Jon Holmes, decided back in 2003 that it would be a good idea for the club to embrace tradition by returning to it’s previous name of Leicester Fosse the fans were invited to express their opinion by holding up a card with either a ‘C’, or ‘F’ printed on it at half-time. As anyone involved in elections will point out holding up cards in front of everyone else isn’t necessarily the most representative method of canvassing opinion but, it still allows fans to have some kind of say.
To their credit, the club listened, but it was under no formal obligation to do so. While we live in a democracy, football clubs are not, and have never been, democracies. They are dictatorships. Sometimes – often even – this works quite well, other times it doesn’t, but in either case power is located in the hands of a few, or even one individual – and there is anyone to answer to its other shareholders, investors and financiers – definitely not fans.
Our dilemma is, do we accept this model which has proved, on the whole successful. Hull and Cardiff are both enjoying successful periods and the Premier League as a whole is the biggest revenue generating league in the world, or do we demand the change which would make football better align with our democratic principles?