In an astonishing turn of events, Hull City's season ticket holders elected to side with controversial owner Assem Allam as he attempts to have the club's name changed to "Hull Tigers," as shared by the club's official website.
A ballot was ordered amongst supporters, with the final outcome in favour of the proposed name change by the very slim margin of 48 votes.
Following the results, the cub released an official statement via its website:
Following the recent ballot of season card holders, the club can confirm the majority of votes cast are in favour of Hull Tigers with the Allam Family continuing to lead the club.
Eurosport shared the total results, including one very important detail:
HULL NAME VOTE RESULTS: 2,565 'Yes to Tigers'; 2,517 'No to Tigers'; 9,159 didn't vote/care— Eurosport.com EN (@EurosportCom_EN) April 7, 2014
As reported by The Daily Mail's Jack Gaughan, "almost 10,000 supporters [opted] not to register their vote" on the proposed name change, which has encountered very firm opposition from some of the team's fans. And as reported by Hull Daily Mail, the fans opposing the name change were none too happy with the way the questions on the ballot were formed.
According to the article, fans had a choice of three 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.
Andy Dalton, a spokesperson for the campaign opposing the proposal, called the ballot unfair:
It's not a fair ballot whatsoever. If you'd have wanted a fair reflection of supporters' opinion you would have had a straight vote of yes or no to Hull Tigers. Instead they've attached a condition to one of the answers that will inevitably skew the result.
It's a huge missed opportunity from the club. There's been a feeling recently that the whole issue has become personalised. It's as though any opposition to Hull Tigers has become a vote against the Allams and a failure to see it approved is a personal slight.
I'm sure plenty of supporters would have liked the chance to vote no to Hull Tigers but yes to the Allams continuing. There's been a lot of talk of a 'silent majority' but every poll suggests that is not the case. We hope to see that trend continue.
With the owner threatening to walk away from the club if his proposal was not approved, the fans were clearly concerned the vote would not go in their favour. As it turns out, they were right, and the fact so many fans didn't cast their vote indicates Allam's perceived threat worked.
As expected, fans were none too happy with the result:
Hull Tigers, Cardiff Dragons... Good bye identity, welcome London Flying Emirates, Manchester Oilers and Northampton Mighty Ducks.— Kurington (@Kurington) April 7, 2014
"51% vote 'yes' to change the club's name to Hull Tigers" this is so dodgy considering they've been protesting for months 😂— alex (@Alex_Noddy) April 7, 2014
Allam has financed the club's rise to the English Premier League in recent years, but the owner sought to change the team's name as part of an attempt to make the brand of his club more appealing.
The owner wants to run the club as a business, as is his right, but some of his decisions have been very unpopular with the club's fans, with the most notable being the name-change to "Tigers."
As reported by the Associated Press' Rob Harris, the results of this ballot don't necessarily mean Allam will get his wish:
FA membership committee has already recommended Hull shouldn't become "Hull Tigers" ... and set to be voted on by FA Council on Wednesday— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) April 7, 2014
With the FA membership committee reportedly very much opposed to the name change and intent on using its reach to sway the FA council, the question becomes how much this ballot will actually mean in the long run.
While the high number of fans refusing to vote on the matter should send a strong message, it is one that will most likely fall on deaf ears with Allam, who appears to have cleared one more hurdle on his way to re-branding his club.