Since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea back in 2003, there has been an increase of super-wealthy business people from across the globe keen to replicate the Russian oligarch's success with the Blues by investing in a Premier League club of their own. We have seen a large array of owners with backgrounds ranging from oil to poultry and their respective methods have been just as diverse.
Most recently of course, we have seen Assem Allam, Hull City's owner of three years, who has seemingly made it his mission to turn a regular, traditional team name into a cheesy American brand - the Hull Tigers. The Egyptian businessman had already changed the registered trading name to Hull City Tigers, Ltd back in August this year, which was controversial enough in itself.
However, Allam's latest quest has rightly angered many of Hull's faithful support as the majority are very much against any kind of Americanisation of their team's long-standing traditional name. In response to the fans' 'City till we die' chant in defiance of Allam's proposals, the Egyptian shockingly and regrettably said:
"I don't mind 'City till we die'. They can die as soon as they want, as long as they leave the club for the majority who just want to watch good football."
Hull boss Steve Bruce insists that Allam's comments were misinterpreted, but whether that is the case or not, the more alarming concern for Hull fans shouldn't be the name change itself, but rather the reasons behind it and whether Allam is the type of owner they want running the club. His intentions and priorities appeared clear after saying this about the protests:
"I have professional management capable of handling the situation. The main thing is that freedom of expression does not prevent the freedom of others to watch the game, or the rights of those who have paid to advertise."
In that interview with the Independent, he mentioned the rights of advertisers on the same level as the rights and wants of fans on more than one occasion which seems to put the 74-year-old in the category of modern football club owners who are putting business over football.
While it would be silly to suggest that fellow owners aren't in it for the financial gains also, you could argue that the ones who try to advance their clubs through business and marketing have failed miserably. Take the Venky's group and their ownership of Blackburn Rovers. The club is run by businessmen who focus on the marketing side to try and improve their team (the pitch invading chicken and the Venky's advert featuring Blackburn players), seemingly neglecting the actual football element. They are now at the wrong end of the Championship after being relegated 18 months after the Indian poultry giants bought the club.
Allam's reasoning behind his proposed name changes is to make the team seem more appealing and exciting, claiming the full name of Hull City Association Football Club is 'lousy' and lacking identity. His thought process is to get as many people following Hull and invest the resulting financial footfall back into the club to improve them on the pitch. Like Venky's, he is neglecting football.
Now let's take Nicola Cortese at Southampton as an example. The Italian banker is now executive chairman of the Saints after being installed to run the club by new owner Markus Liebherr when the German industrialist bought the club in 2009 whilst still in League One.
Cortese's methods have proved highly successful and after a double promotion, the Hampshire club now find themselves flying high in the Premier League. Why? Unlike others in the Premier League, he is highly knowledgeable of the game and puts football before business.
Club policies are proving successful in a squad ripe with young English talent surrounded by intelligent signings like Dejan Lovren. Even the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino - a decision criticised after the shock sacking of fan favourite Nigel Adkins - has proven to be a masterstroke. The Argentine has taken the club forward with a new philosophy and style when it had seemed that Adkins had taken Southampton as far as they could go. It was a bold and harsh, yet intelligent decision from the Saints hierarchy and one made on footballing decisions.
Whether Hull's controversial owner gets his wish and rebrands the team, or whether or not he puts his threat into practice of not investing another pound and selling up, it goes to show that an owner trying to change a club through a marketing revolution causes a lot more headache as opposed to those trying through footballing evolution.
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