There’s little doubt about it, football can be a tough old game.
Ask Blackpool supporters who have suffered indefinitely over the past few years due to mis-management from owners. Ask Kidderminster Harriers, once led by the great defender Jan Molby who now find themselves in the Conference North. Ask Hereford United fans, who witnessed the brutal winding-up of their old club as owner Andy Lonsdale failed to even turn up to court.
Whilst there are many footballing-fairytales happening season after season, there are often bleak situations appearing all over the country and indeed the world. Football clubs are trying to adapt to the sometimes fruitful but often brutal modernisation of the beautiful game, and trust me, it’s a tough climate out there.
And whilst stadium-rebranding and billionaire owners are quickly becoming the norm, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that this philosophy is difficult to bear, often at management level. Russian and Saudi oligarchs do not have the same visions and aspirations as die-hard supporters and we’ve seen power struggle after power struggle because of it.
Thus, we turn our attention to Hull City.
Hull are enduring a pretty torrid spell of late. The club have been left manager-less after Steve Bruce left the club over a continued lack of support in the transfer market, whilst on the pitch, things aren’t much better either. Hull, now interim managed by Mike Phelan have a concerning injury list that seems to be ever-expanding and they’ve signed no players with the new Premier League season just three weeks away.
It’s quickly turned from the vision of dreams into the stuff of nightmares for supporters on the paddocks, who would have welcomed a return to the top flight after some truly turbulent times, even before Bruce’s departure.
Whilst he bailed out the club upon his arrival in 2010, there has been anger ever since. He’s tried to change the club’s name to Hull Tigers and has proposed a membership scheme consisting of no concession prices. Unhappiness was all too clear to see as Hull secured their place back in the Premier League at Wembley last season- there were empty seats riddled throughout their allocation.
Bruce’s relationship with Ehab Allam, son of Hull owner Assem quickly deteriorated beyond a point of repair. As vice-chairman of the club, Ehab was reluctant to sign the players identified by Bruce throughout his tenure. Even with the former Birmingham man leading the Tigers back to the top-flight, Allam wouldn’t support him financially. It was a seemingly impossible relationship but now Hull are in an extremely dangerous situation indeed, and unfortunately for their supporters, demotion back to the Championship at the first attempt is looking more and more likely.
Hull are already as low as 4/6 to face an imminent return to the second division, so it’s not just supporters who are taking note of the perilous position they find themselves in.
It’s also a terrific shame. Steve Bruce is a man that twice led both Birmingham City and Hull City to promotion and he is often considered a solid, solid manager. But once again, he, as well as many others, has become a victim of modern football. Modern football that is intent on branding clubs, using them as milking machines in their ongoing attempt for world dominance and exposure.
But ultimately it will be the fans who suffer. Whilst there are plenty of examples of modern-day ownership and management that do seem to work out, (Manchester City and Chelsea immediately spring to mind) there are plenty of examples that have seen it fail miserably, leaving supporters to grieve over the ashes of what remains.
As a signing off point, here is a quote from Hull City owner Assem Allam. It seemingly highlights just why things have gotten so bad for the Tigers.
“If I owned Manchester City, I would rename them Manchester Hunter“.