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Football Owners Should Respect the Clubs They Buy

Financial plight, potential profit, increased exposure or a passion to be involved in the “beautiful game” are just some of the reasons why investors choose to takeover and plough funds into a football club. But is a takeover always a good thing? News is emerging from different media outlets that energy drinks company Red Bull are considering adding an English club to their vast portfolio and propelling them into the Champions League. Everton and Liverpool are two potential clubs on their radar.

Currently, Red Bull owns clubs in Germany, Austria, Brazil, Ghana, and the US – all having the global brand in their team name. The New York Red Bulls are the most famous example in their repertoire and currently ply their trade in the MLS. The side was founded as the New York/New Jersey MetroStars up until 2006 when Red Bull purchased the club. Coming with the takeover was a vast re-branding including a stadium name change to the Red Bull Arena, a different badge featuring the iconic energy drinks charging bulls and a kit emblazoned with their signage. Will we see in two years-time a Premier League side playing their home games at the Red Bull Arena? Will the Liverpool liver bird be replaced with a bull? Will Everton be known as Everton Red Bulls or Red Bull Everton? All these questions must be addressed with strong resistance and answered with a resounding no. Take Liverpool for example, they have been around 95 years longer than Red Bull. That tradition, history and heritage should be respected by any future investor.

With this season’s campaign still in its infancy, we have already seen one fresh case of football club owners meddling with traditions. Hull City owners Assem and Ehab Allam proposed to rename the side “Hull City Tigers” before dropping the “City” further down the line. Now, as a Hull City fan myself don’t get me wrong. I am forever grateful for the Egyptian born businessmen who saved our club from liquidation and without them the future looked very bleak. But this does not give them a right to change the club as and when they see fit just because they own it.

The owners see the club from a business perspective and are suggesting the name change would attract further interest from the Far East, the Tiger is symbolic, yet where is this proof? Since Hull’s 1904 inception, fans have been the backbone through the dark days, often putting money into the club by way of ticket and merchandise sales without a second thought. Without the fans you have little more than a soulless and fragmented club. While the proposed changes have alienated a section of the KC Stadium support from the owners, it must be noted that the majority of fans aren’t against the Allams in any way shape or form, but merely their idea.

Newly-promoted Cardiff City had their home kit and badge changed on the orders of Vincent Tan. Whilst his money has pushed them towards the pinnacle of English football, at what cost? Their identity. Sections of the Bluebirds support have valiantly united in the cause of keeping the Welsh club tied to its roots, but if you look around the Cardiff City stadium, you’ll still see red shirts in the ground which suggest that people back the changes made.

I’m all for increased revenue streams, but please respect something that is of so much importance to the local community and is not just a rich man’s play-thing.

Published on October 19 2013 for The Huffington Post.

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