CTWD call for Hull City fans to unite in support

No civil war on 1904.

On Monday evening during the West Ham game, the singing of “City Till I Die” on 19 minutes and four seconds was met by sporadic booing from some sections of The Circle. The booing led to arguments between fans at the game, and on message boards and fans’ forums afterwards. This was particularly disappointing, given Steve Bruce’s plea ahead of the game for the fans to unite behind the team.

City Till We Die were appalled and saddened by the booing. When we chose to publicise and energise our campaign against owner Assem Allam’s plan to change the historic name of our club, we chose a song sung at a time that demonstrated our commitment to our club, our city and our history.

“City Till I Die” is a song that has been sung by Hull City AFC supporters all over Britain, Europe and the world, for more years than any of us can remember. We chose to do this in line with our campaign aims of always positively supporting the team as we attempted to protect the club’s name. We knew we had been successful in this when club Vice Chairman Ehab Allam said on Radio Humberside earlier this year that he enjoyed hearing the 19:04 singing, as it was the loudest and most enthusiastic our home support ever became.

The name change campaign ended on April 9th when the FA voted overwhelmingly and unequivocally to accept the recommendation of their Members Committee that our club would retain the name Hull City. Since that point we have not asked fans to sing “City Till I Die” on 19:04 as the campaign has ended, in success. We make this point as it seems likely that the booing has been provoked by Assem Allam’s press conference last week, in which he repeated previously made claims of initiating legal action and of using various appeals processes against the FA’s decision. City Till We Die was disappointed to hear this, but believe it changes nothing.

The club first talked of making an appeal in March before the FA had even made their decision. The FA has no appeal process for this type of decision and their process – taking evidence from the Club, the East Riding FA, the Hull City Official Supporters Club and City Till We Die, as well as local and national elected politicians – was clearly fair and equitable. City Till We Die therefore believe the name change debate is over.

We are now putting our energies into setting up a Supporters Trust, in line with the wishes of our members.

Though we are no longer campaigning, we’re not surprised that fans have continued to sing “City Till I Die” on 19:04. Like Ehab Allam we believe it has enhanced support for Steve Bruce and the team. We know that a lot of fans sing this to celebrate our historic identity and our current success. It is not an anti-Allam song. It never has been. Because City Till We Die have never been an anti-Allam organisation. But we do ask all fans, whether you sing at 19:04 or whether you don’t, to respect your fellow Hull City fans.

Sing whatever you like to support the manager and the team. But please don’t boo. We hope that means that all of us, the fans and the club, can move on together, supporting our team loudly and passionately, everywhere we go, as our football adventure continues. We want to enjoy supporting our team. We want no civil war on 19:04.

City Till We Die Supporters Group.

CTWD statement on arbitration and ownership

City Till We Die is confident that the Football Association’s decision to reject the “Hull Tigers” name remains fair and just and that Hull City AFC can prosper under the current or new ownership.

CTWD is disappointed to learn that Chairman Dr. Allam intends to appeal to the Court Of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over the Football Association’s rejection of his plan to rename Hull City Association Football Club to “Hull Tigers”.

Hull City has enjoyed a period of relative stability since the FA turned down the name change application after a thorough and fair process. The Allam family have continued to support the club’s manager Steve Bruce in the transfer market and the club has experienced a first ever FA Cup Final and a historic, but sadly short, European campaign.

These momentous firsts, continued Premier League football, a record shirt sponsorship deal and strong season ticket sales in spite of a massive price rise have been achieved by Hull City AFC, our best ever manager Steve Bruce and owners Assem and Ehab Allam.

CTWD continue to support the Allams’ ownership of the club. We remain grateful that in 2010 they secured the future of the club when it was uncertain and we appreciate their positive contributions to the club’s history in the four years since.

However we still see no justifiable reason to change the name of a football club that has existed and been a pillar of the local community since 1904 and we know that a significant number of the club’s fans agree. The Football Association were convinced that this was the case in April and we are confident that there are no grounds for CAS to overturn any decision achieved by such a rigid process.

Should CAS support the FA’s decision – Dr. Allam will look to sell the club. This was always going to happen at some point as the Allams are not, by their own admission, “football people” and they stepped in to secure the club for the city and ensure a lasting legacy.

Their input means the club is in far better shape on the field than it was when they took over and for that - we thank them. We remain happy to work with the owners, old or new, on issues that matter deeply to fans of Hull City AFC and especially the 1,800 members of City Till We Die.

CTWD ask Humberside Police for Europa League calm

City Till We Die ask that the Europa League Play-off round game between Hull City and Lokeren on Thursday is policed sensibly. Mistakes made by the Belgian police after the first leg should not be repeated and genuine Lokeren fans should not be subjected to an inappropriate police response.

We were appalled by reports of Hull City fans, many of whom were CTWD members, being herded by Belgian Police past a pub containing people who were banned from attending the game, with some fans suffering minor injuries as bottles and glasses were thrown.

This resulted in an accusatory statement from Humberside Police focusing mainly on the arrest of three Hull City fans and threatening that “The disorder witnessed last night will be taken into account as the return leg approaches and we will police the match accordingly”. 

The statement did not take into account the particular circumstance surrounding a frightening, but isolated, incident. Hull City fans found the vast majority of Lokeren fans to be hospitable and friendly and insist that the incident did not detract from the otherwise excellent experience.

The level of policing for football matches is set by a Safety Advisory Group (SAG). Every club has such a group which is made up of representatives of the club, the stadium, the council and the police. It is the feeling of CTWD that there should be fan representation on Hull City’s SAG – as other clubs have. This would allow the concerns of fans to be expressed during the consultation on each game and ensure informed input on matters such as segregation, stewarding and the amount of police present in and around the stadium.

In the meantime, we would therefore ask that the innocent Lokeren fans who will be travelling to the city for the return game are welcomed with the same level of hospitality as Hull City fans enjoyed in Belgium. The mistakes made by the Belgian police should not be repeated by our local force and Lokeren fans should not have their experience of football in this country soured by heavy-handed policing.

Any Hull City fans who have concerns over their treatment by police or stewards at any football match can contact the Football Supporters’ Federation through their website www.fsf.org.uk/

City silent so far on name change issue

Fans will recall that on 4 June CTWD wrote to James Mooney, Hull City’s Marketing and Online Commercial Manager, raising issues of concern arising from the season card renewal forms that had been sent out to supporters.  These issues were the conspicuous absence of the terms “Hull City” or “Hull City AFC” in any part of the form and the use instead of “Hull City Tigers”, “hulltigers” and “hullcitytigers” in email and postal addresses.  This, of course, preceded the club’s announcement of a new badge that too had had the words “Hull City AFC” obliterated from it.

Mr Mooney was on holiday when the club received the letter, but we were told he would deal with it upon his return.   He has today – almost a month later - informed us that our enquiry has nothing to do with him, it is for the owners to respond.

It is surprising – to say the least – that the member of staff with responsibility for the marketing of the club, including the very season card renewal forms that were sent out to supporters, is unable to answer some basic questions about his own public communications.  It is dismaying that the club feels it acceptable to take so long to reply to an important and legitimate enquiry sent on behalf of its most loyal customers, the very same season card holders it was asking to pay 30% more for the cost of their support.

This response, or rather the delay in supplying one, comes barely a week after the Ehab Allam revealed the new badge, introduced without the supporter consultation the club had promised.  It does not appear that the club’s owners’ attitude to their customers is improving.

The Allams’ refusal to use Hull City as the club’s name comes across as childish and vindictive.  This uncertainty about the very name of the club is damaging to the club itself.  We know of long-term supporters who are not renewing their season cards, and they are doing this not because of increased costs but because they can no longer tolerate the owners’ attitude to City supporters.

We have asked that our letter of 4 June be passed on to Ehab Allam for a response.  We now await that reply.

CTWD statement on club badge

CTWD is hugely disappointed that the club has chosen to introduce a new badge without any consultation with supporters, especially having promised that consultation would take place.

There is no reasonable rationale for changing a badge that has been proudly worn by Hull City players who, in its existence, have achieved four promotions, top-flight football and reached an FA Cup Final.

Ehab Allam states that due to time constraints “consultation with the fans about the new crest wasn’t possible”. This is, quite simply, untrue. This redesign has not happened overnight. A supporter consultation could have easily, and quickly, been conducted if the club wanted it. By not asking its loyal customers the club has reneged on a promise made in a statement on 9 August 2013 that a “new badge, to be used from the 2014-15 season, will be designed and created in consultation with fans”. 

We also take issue with Ehab Allam’s claim that changing the badge “celebrates the Club’s heritage and history”. Over the past year, the current owners have demonstrated exactly what they think of Hull City’s heritage by their attempt to change its very name. Season card holders have already remarked that their renewal forms did not bear the name of the club, nor is Hull City mentioned anywhere in this club statement. CTWD maintains that the reason the badge is being changed is simply because it contains the words “Hull City AFC”.

It now appears, bizarrely, that the owners of Hull City do not want to use the name of the club because the FA refused them leave to change it. This is remarkable. It also makes commercial nonsense. We fear that many supporters have already been put off renewing their season cards for the coming campaign due to the sudden price hike. We are now very concerned about a further loss of revenue as people refuse to buy merchandise that does not show the name of the club.

CTWD calls on the Allams to reverse their decision to change the badge for the coming current season and to start treating the club’s supporters – its customers -with respect. If the club wishes to introduce a new badge, let it do so in conjunction with, and not in spite of, its fans - the lifeblood of Hull City AFC.

Response to FA decision, April 9th 2014

The City Till We Die (CTWD) campaign group is delighted to learn that the Football Association (FA) have decided to reject the application from Assem and Ehab Allam to change the name of our club from Hull City AFC to Hull Tigers. We are very pleased that the FA have recognised the importance of the historic name of Hull City AFC to the fans and the wider community of Hull and have not been persuaded that a name change would be in the best interests of supporters of the club and the club itself. We would like to thank the FA for conducting a process that we believe has been fair and equitable, allowing the owners, the fans groups and other interested stakeholders to have their say on this matter. We would also like to thank the tens of thousands of Hull City AFC supporters, and the countless number of people from the wider football family across Britain and beyond, who have backed and encouraged us throughout this campaign. This is truly a victory for the fans.

We are sorry that, in the midst of what may be Hull City AFC’s most successful season in its 110 year history that we have had to be so consumed by off the field matters. Now that the FA, the arbiters and regulators of football have ruled on this matter, City Till We Die regard this decision as final and that the matter is now closed. We are very happy we can now look forward to concentrating on the remainder of the season by focussing on the magnificent efforts of Steve Bruce and the team as they continue to prosper in the Premier League and prepare for a visit to Wembley in the semi-final of the FA Cup. Beyond this, we are looking forward to next season and continuing to progress as Hull City AFC with, we hope, the Allam family continuing their stewardship of the club.

City Till We Die Campaign Group.

Ballot result response from CTWD

The City Till We Die (CTWD) campaign group notes the result of the ballot organised over the last two weeks by Hull City football club. 

We are pleased that supporters treated the ballot as a validation of Dr Allam’s ownership of the football club, rather than believing the masquerade that this was a vote on the name change.

The truth of the matter is that this result is largely meaningless, either as a measure of opinions regarding the name change proposal, or as a measure of the supporters’ desire to see Dr Allam and his son Ehab stay at the City helm.  The yawning deficiencies of the ballot were there for all to see. 

  • The ballot form’s presentation of the case for only one of the options flew in the face of all reasonable conventions. 
  • The loaded nature of the questions, which conflated the name change proposal with the owners’ desire to validate their ownership amongst supporters, made the responses to each question confused and garbled. 
  • The inclusion of the entirely bizarre and divisive “not bothered” option added further irrelevance to the ballot.

Then there was the haphazard manner in which the ballot was conducted. 

  • Large swathes of the season card-holding electorate failed to receive an email inviting them to cast a vote, meaning they had to rely on the media (or CTWD!) to hear about the important decision that they were being asked to make. 
  • The ballot form provided for downloading was so poorly created that hundreds of people sent in blank responses, after having completed their votes and seen their details wiped from the form. 
  • The apparent insecurity of both the boxes provided to receive hard copy ballot forms, and the email account holding the returned ballots remains a cause for concern.  The email account was supposedly totally secure, yet Hull City staff were routinely able to report on the number of votes cast. 
  • The ballot boxes for hard copy forms were supposed to be available for use during two fixtures at the KC Stadium, one a City match and the other a Hull FC fixture, yet twice people were turned away.  How many voters simply gave up in the face of such incompetence?

Such basic process errors makes one wonder what the independent adjudicators Beyond Dispute – hired at great expense to Hull City, we are assured by the club – were up to when the ballot process was conceived and enacted.

As long ago as last November, CTWD called on Dr Allam to undertake a fair and simple ballot amongst season card holders, to gauge opinions about his proposed name change.  Instead he conducted a decidedly unfair ballot, which was far from simple and appallingly managed, four months after it was useful and several weeks after the FA announced its provisional recommendation on the name change.

It is a matter of great regret to CTWD that Dr Allam has continued to act so disrespectfully to Hull City supporters.  We genuinely hope that we have now reached the end of this sorry episode.  We call for the name Hull City to be retained for good, allowing supporters to focus their minds on the tremendous feats that Steve Bruce, the coaching staff and the playing staff have achieved thanks to the unprecedented financial generosity of Dr Allam. 

Who knows, win against Everton in our last League fixture and Hull City might be playing in the Europa League next season!  We fervently hope that City supporters are given the chance to savour that possibility with this name change debacle put behind us.

CTWD VOICE CONCERNS OVER BALLOT

EDIT 28.03.2014: It was confirmed yesterday afternoon by Hull City that our detailed questions about the conduct or probity of the club’s name change ballot will not be replied to at this time.  This raises some very serious concerns. Hull City fans will be faced with the prospect of receiving the outcome of the ballot alongside a statement that says “trust us guv, this is all above board”. There will be no prior assurances about the ballot process and numbers.

While we might not have, or indeed wish for, any evidence of misconduct, it seems bizarre that the legitimate concerns of supporters about the ballot process are not being answered now, prior to the results being announced and prior to the ballot closing. We are unaware of any other ballot, ever, that announced the details of how the ballot was conducted and controlled only after it has been completed and analysed.

It is certainly a situation that makes it difficult for supporters to have maximum faith in a ballot that will determine the owners’ views on the future name of our club.

CTWD encourages supporters to write to the FA and the Football Supporters’ Federation about their concerns with this ballot. The email addresses are info@thefa.com and info@fsf.org.uk.

Original post follows.

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Following many concerns expressed by Hull City AFC supporters regarding the ballot over the proposed name change to Hull Tigers, City Till We Die yesterday sent the following list of questions to the club:

  1. There is a known problem with the online completion of PDF files issued by the club, as revealed during the issue and receipt of Wembley ticket orders, whereby fans are filling in the form, returning it by email then discovering that the submitted forms are blank.  What controls have the club put in place to ensure the inadvertent production of such blank voting forms is avoided?  If the risk persists of blank forms being submitted, what steps is the club putting in place to capture the voting intentions of those people affected?
  2. Some pass holders may wish to add comments to the voting form, as well as submitting their name, address and pass number details.  What will be the club’s approach to those forms with additional writing added? Will they be counted as valid votes?
  3. Can you please explain the protections that have been put on the email inbox ballot@hulltigers.com, to reassure supporters that the votes received by email cannot be tampered with or viewed by Hull City staff? And can you please explain the process by which the independent adjudicator will be given exclusive access to this email inbox?
  4. Can you, in a similar fashion, explain how the postal ballot boxes will be protected so that no Hull City staff can view or tamper with the contents?  Are the ballot boxes uniquely numbered and listed independently, so that there are protections in place to avoid boxes going missing, either accidentally or deliberately?  Have the ballot boxes been sealed?  When a box is filled, is it replaced with an empty one and stored, or is a full box emptied and reused? Where are the full boxes being stored?  And how will the ballot boxes be transported to the independent adjudicator at the end of the ballot?
  5. Can you please explain why people’s name and addresses are requested, as well as their season card number?  This is not normal procedure for secret ballots.
  6. Can you please provide the name, address and other contact details for the independent adjudicator retained by the club?  And can you please briefly explain the process gone through to select that firm and assess their capabilities?  Further, can you please explain what input the adjudicator had to the design of the ballot process launched last Friday?
  7. Can you please confirm the numbers of people eligible to vote, by season pass type (OAP, adult, youth, corporate sponsors, Premier Club)?  Can you please confirm that all of these people have been contacted by the club, and explain how this has been achieved?  Can you please confirm that all such communications inviting different groups to cast their vote, by whatever means, have included the exact same wording?
  8. Can you please clarify whether full-time and/or part-time employees of the club that are not pass holders (including, but not limited to, the playing staff) are eligible to vote?  Have any such employees received communication from the club’s management that differs from the other people invited to cast their vote?  If so, can you please let us see a copy of any written communication, or summarise the spoken messages that may have been delivered?
  9. Finally, can you please confirm that the club’s intention for this ballot, is to canvas opinions on the name change, and that issue alone?

We were pleased to get a prompt response from James Mooney, Marketing Manager, assuring us that they would aim to answer them today following a meeting with the adjudicators appointed to oversee the ballot. However, 24 hours after submitting these legitimate questions, we have been unable to get a firm response from the club on any of them. In fact, Hull City have even been unable to provide us with the name of the adjudicators.

We have stressed the need for clarity on the issues raised above and hope to receive some answers as soon as possible.

The ballot closes at midnight on Friday 28th March.

CITY TILL WE DIE Campaign Group