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

SEVEN DAYS TO SAVE OUR NAME

As you will know by now, the Allam family are polling Hull City AFC season card holders as to whether or not they endorse the name change of Hull City AFC to Hull Tigers. Fans have the opportunity to vote by email, or to place their completed voting form inside ballot boxes at the KC Stadium. The poll gives the following options:

* Yes to Hull Tigers with the Allam family continuing to lead the club
* No to Hull Tigers
* I am not too concerned and will continue to support the club either way

City Till We Die first asked the Club to poll pass holders in November of last year and we were told by Dr Allam that it was “not necessary.” So we were delighted at the news that the owners had finally come around to our point of view. But we are disappointed in these questions.

City Till We Die wrote to the club this week asking for the poll to have a straight yes or no answer on the name change, then a further question asking if the Allams should stay as owners of the club. We believed this would be the fairest way of getting a clear vote on the name change whilst allowing the fans, if they wished to, to show support for the owners. Sadly, the club have ignored us and, even worse, are implying in option one that a “yes” vote is the only way they will stay at the club.

We don’t expect that the Allams will immediately leave the club. For our reasons, please see here.

So what do we want you to do?

Vote No To Hull Tigers. This is your chance as someone who puts money into the club over a full season to show that you want to retain our historic name, with its link to our historic city.

Don’t be tempted to write on your ballot paper that you are against the name change but want the Allams to stay. This could be classed as a spoiled ballot, causing your vote not to be counted.

A No To Hull Tigers vote doesn’t mean you want the Allams to go. It doesn’t mean you don’t want to stay in the Premier League. It doesn’t mean you want to see our club cease to develop. It means just what it says; you reject the cartoon name which the owners want, without any justification, to foist on our club.

A No To Hull Tigers vote is a vote for moving forward whilst retaining our history. A vote for ambition with tradition.

If you have friends, neighbours or work colleagues who are unsure what to do, explain this to them. Direct them to these online links to our FAQ, our submission to the FA, and our advert. Or if they don’t use the internet, make sure they buy the Hull Daily Mail on Tuesday 25th March when the full page advert will be running.

Don’t let a badly-worded ballot put you off having your say. Don’t let heavy-handed hints about the future ownership of the club unsettle you. You have seven days to have your say on the historic identity of our club. Seven days to save our name. Act now. Vote No To Hull Tigers.

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CITY TILL WE DIE CALLS FOR TWO-QUESTION BALLOT

As Hull City AFC Vice Chairman Ehab Allam revealed on Saturday 15 March, the club are finally planning to run a ballot asking season ticket holders their views on the name change proposal. City Till We Die called for just such a poll on 18 November 2013, but Dr Allam said it was “not necessary.” 

The club have yet to announce the exact wording of the question which will be posed, or how the ballot will be run. However, City Till We Die are concerned that the voting form may be worded in such a way as to present the ballot as a vote of confidence in the Allams’ overall stewardship of the club, rather than the single issue of the name change. Our campaign has always been about retaining the name “Hull City”, and nothing else. 

We are therefore calling on the club to include TWO questions on the ballot form.

1. Do you agree with the proposed name change to “Hull Tigers”? – YES/NO

2. Do you support the Allam family’s continued ownership of Hull City? –  YES/NO

We know that many supporters wish to remain as Hull City, but are happy for the Allams’ ownership of the club to continue. 

We also hope there will be independent adjudication of the ballot, to avoid any doubt about the legitimacy of the results.  

As ever, we remain keen to explore alternative means of making the club financially self-sustaining, without the need for changing its historic name.

CITY TILL WE DIE – Ambition AND Tradition