Hull City begin their 2018/19 Championship campaign on Monday 6 August with a home game against Aston Villa. In addition to those Hull City fans who choose to watch the game at the KCOM, many will view the match live on Sky TV. It sees the return of Steve Bruce, still worshipped by City fans for taking them to parts other managers could not reach. Brucie is our ‘special one’ and the most successful manager in our history. He deserves a warm reception and will get one. Despite rumours concerning Thierry Henry, Steve remains in charge at Villa Park for the immediate future and will be looking to quickly bounce back from the Championship Play Off defeat to Fulham at the back end of last season.
Hull City fans have always dared to dream, an essential part of their DNA. But Steve Bruce made our wildest dreams come true. Wonderful memories will remain forever. The Premier League again, full houses at the KC/KCOM, FA Cup Final and European football were the cornerstones of a golden age and the current decline in our fortunes can be traced back to Bruce’s exit from the KCOM soon after the 2016 Wembley Championship Play Off Final success.
A new football season always brings hope and renewed optimism. Fans will search for as much positivity as they can muster as they return to their match day ritual, often renewing friendships at or before and after the match in the process. For many it's the people that make it such a great day out, the banter, the social side. But underneath the exposed cheery faces of Hull City AFC's thin low budget squad and fans at the ground we have a dark and disgraceful underbelly largely hidden from view. Our owners have alienated a large proportion of the fanbase, refusing to engage in meaningful communication and consultation and failing to fully abandon the outlawed rebranding. They still fail to grasp that unlike in other businesses, football supporters have to be won over and respected. Thousands of our most loyal fans will continue their boycott of games. Many will never return unless the Allam family terminate their links with the club. Rather than make peace with the fans, the Allam family seem to have lost interest in all things Hull City and despite retaining ownership, their attention appears focused elsewhere. It is a long, painful and messy divorce between owners and fans. We have a marriage with irreconcilable differences.
The admirable Hull City Supporters Trust (HCST) have shown sustained patience and perseverance since our owners lost the plot over the FA’s name change decision five years ago. The HCST has continually looked to represent the best interests of all Hull City supporters and taken on the role of marriage guidance counsellor and mediator in an attempt to mend the ever deepening chasm between owners and fans. Such valiant efforts need both parties to be committed and motivated if a relationship is to be salvaged, but the Allams do not appear interested and have ridiculed meaningful dialogue. This has not gone unnoticed with national supporter organisations like the FSF (Football Supporters Federation) and SD (Supporters Direct) who are now fully aware of the antics of Assem and Ehab Allam. The Allams appear to see it as a marriage in name only, a marriage of convenience. They are not motivated to build bridges and seem determined to ensure the misery continues. It’s therefore unsurprising that many fans see the likes of the ill-prepared membership scheme and other bizarre Allam policies as part of a petty and deliberate strategy to gain revenge on the Hull public after the name change snub. We need these fans back and quickly.
Had it not been for Ehab Allan’s desire to stick his nose into on pitch affairs, interfere with transfer dealings and generally dabble in areas where he was out of his depth, Steve Bruce might still be manager of Hull City and the men wearing the black and amber of our great football club might be established in the Premier League.
Instead, our owners have continued their lengthy sulk over the FA decision on the name change. Hull City no longer helps their kudos or their business affairs so they are content to let it slowly rot away. They have shifted their focus to Hull University and local medical institutions where their financial input and perceived generosity provides them a payback in the form of the gratitude and adulation they so desperately seek. But in an ongoing act of anger and defiance they refuse to release our great club from their clutches seemingly still searching for satisfaction and revenge and squeezing it hard to release any spare cash into their own pockets. Once gone, I hope we never see them or their like again.
The Allam era will now be remembered more for the protests, a dramatic cash squeeze and dreadful treatment of fans than the early unprecedented glory. As the new season dawns and Nigel Adkins puts on that already familiar brave face, we wonder what is happening behind the scenes and who is doing what, where and how.
Yet there are hopeful signs, the door to the KCOM has been reopened to David ‘Burnsy’ Burns and Radio Humberside, the Billy Bly Trophy has been restored and other minor gestures have been made in respect of the illegal rebranding of our name. Unfortunately these are more likely a reflection of the football club’s rapidly diminished profile than any fundamental change of heart from the Allams. Plus the embarrassingly skewed and manipulated 'joint' new badge design process counts as one of the most ridiculous events in our history.
So it looks as if many Hull City fans will just have to wait. For as long as it takes. Hull City fans have protested and will continue to protest. But many supporters are now bored of it all, feel ignored, used and powerless, passive and resigned to having to watch their club disintegrate in front of them. Many are the victims of emotional blackmail and are exploited by our owners and are in a 'no win' situation. The naive yet understandable 'they won't go, they won't change, it's all pointless, why bother' is now the view of many when it comes to protests. But for thousands of die hard City fans, some form of personal or group protest or efforts to highlight the injustice and damaging antics of our owners, large or small, is their only way to get by and stay sane.
Alongside this the Hull City Supporters Trust has grown in number and stature during this long stand off with the club. It has gained huge respect for the professional way in which it has conducted it's affairs, has won influential friends across the nation and will be well prepared like a coiled spring to establish a professional and healthy relationship with the club as soon as we have new owners or our current owners see sense at last.
And all this because a couple of wealthy fellas couldn’t get their own way on one issue five years ago. Hull City AFC should now be an established Premier League team. A huge opportunity has been missed, a new generation of City fans has been stifled and Hull’s football fans disrespected. Hull City and everything to do with it should have been a central feature of our time as UK City of Culture. Instead our owners hid in the shadows until it went away. A criminal waste of a once in a lifetime chance. Any new owner will need to make the club part of the community again. The Allams began by falling out with Hull City Council then have slowly but surely ripped Hull City away from the community it was formed to represent. In that respect, we have a dead football club.
On arrival our owners told us they didn't know anything about football, ironically this could be the only Allam statement Hull City supporters have fully believed in during their lengthy stay. If Assem and Ehab Allam want their names to be remembered by Hull City’s football fans for anything other than a horror story and as objects of hate they need to take steps to sort this as soon as possible. Fans have suffered enough now, let's have common sense, peace and let's get the fans united and cheer our team to further success.
Lets be part of the community again. Let's be a football club again.