Going? Not going? A balanced look at both sides of the quandary for City fans...
It’s a tricky subject that our fans have very strong opinions on, but after this weekend and all the attendance talk it’s a subject isn’t going away. You might agree with me, or you might not, but I'll just try to give a balanced view of the current predicament for fans under the ownership of the Allam family.
I recently watched an episode of "Friends" where Ross is weighing up whether to date Rachel or not and makes a list (don't moan dear reader, it was post the euro's and Mrs Palmer had to watch 296 hours of football this year, so there's got to be a compromise). Obviously with it being mid-nineties comedy she finds the list and it doesn't go well... so I thought I'd make a list of pros and cons for fans attending games...
However I don't mind if the equivalent of Ross (the city fans) read this list, and although comparing Ehab to Jennifer Aniston is perhaps a metaphor too far, I really wouldn't mind anyone from the club reading this list either (not that they would).
I do get why people don't go to home games based on their issues with the owners, I must admit I absolutely don't understand why people don't go at all, considering the club make pretty much nothing from away attendees. Perhaps someone on twitter can tell me a logical reason for that.
Aaaaanyway... here's your list of pros and cons, rotating between positive and negative.
Pro number one. This is the most "Hull" team in years.
Coyle, Potter, Greaves are all first team regulars and amongst our most important players.
The likes of Fleming, Wood and Smith are knocking on the door.
There's class in the U18 and U23 with the likes of Ollie Green and Harry Wallis.
These lads deserve supporting, they bust a gut for the club and there's something downright special about that. There was a point on Saturday where Lewie Coyle just stood and soaked in the east stand at 3pm, it's as clear as day that the best full back at this club in years was trying to take in what it means. That's special. The end.
You might not see a team who have as many great Hull born lads again in a long, long time. They deserve your backing.
Con number one. You said you'd sell up....
You all know the song.
Even the most fervent supporter of the owners can't deny that they have said repeatedly, publicly that they wish to exit and sell the club.
Now, I for one am not totally convinced of that.
But if that's not the case, don't say it. By stating they want to go, the mind-set of the fans is inevitably to desire an owner that wants to run the club. It means that we seem to be constantly in this state of flux and it's hard to know what the long term vision is, as it's rarely communicated.
That isn't very conducive to fans committing to go themselves which increasingly less have done in the last five years. If the owners don't want to stay, it's inevitable that there's an amount of fans that won't come until that happens.
Pro number two. This is about where this club should be, what more do you want?
The premier league years have spoilt us. Unless you have a sugar daddy chucking money about, then a club our size has to bring through youth, scout, develop, sell and repeat.
And to be honest, that's pretty much what we've done well.
The likes of Maguire, Robertson, Bowen and even Daniel James have been moved on for a mix of financial gain for us, some more than once thanks to sell on clauses.
They've been replaced sometimes three times over and some of those players are now catching the eye of scouts again (see Lewis Potter, Wilks, Greaves etc)
This is what any club our moderate size are going to have to do. Darnbrough bashing seems almost an Olympic sport for some fans on social media, but Alfie Jones, Malik Wilks, Matt Ingram, Greg Docherty, Josh Magennis, Lewie Coyle and Callum Elder wave hello. Sure we've had some duds, but I'm not sure what more anyone wants in terms of development.
The Adam Pearson ran Hull City sold players and reinvested, this isn't any different in many ways (bar the current embargo) but where the Pearson era failed was developing through the academy to first team, you could argue they produced the players (like Connor Townsend and Liam Cooper) but they never made the breakthrough that the current bunch have, you could also argue that reflected the level of competition we were in at the time, but both Townsend and Cooper have since played effectively at the top level.
My point is, this is what we are, unless we become a pet of a Russian trillionaire.
The wages are no longer mad, and the current crop of players care about the club and are exciting to watch again. I'm not sure what's more important than that.
Con number two. A little communication goes a long way
It can't be easy working for the city communications team at times.
There has been a lot of efforts in recent years to rebuild some of the historically burned bridges.
The club starting to use the #hcafc hash tag, the changing of the website to a non "Hullcitytigers" name, the improvement in prices for season passes, the excellent points system for members... the list is quite extensive and there's clearly been a significant and consistent effort to mend the relationship with the fan base.
And....then there's the steps back. The unnecessarily expensive match day tickets, the lack of free to air live radio coverage for the elderly and vulnerable, the banning of a journalist that's perhaps the most positive city writer in years based on what his predecessor wrote.
This coupled with the historical disputes have left the relationship between the owners and the fans soured.
One of my favourite lyrics to any song is on "Sub-city" by Tracy Chapman when she sings "Give Mr President my honest regards, for disregarding me." Many of our former fan base feel disregarded and it would take something special to turn that around.
There is a lot of staff trying hard with the club and often when mistakes or badly thought out plans come to light, they change after the reaction, but there really isn't the dialogue with fans groups and consultation that could avoid these in the first place.
The clarity in communication and working together is something that never really seems to get solved. Just a bit more could make such a difference because many fans have appreciated the recent efforts.
Pro number three. 4-3-3 FC equals goals, attacking and it won't be dull..
There's been eras where we've been effective but not very expansive, I always felt the Nigel Pearson team were very combative but not very exciting. There's been eras where we weren't effective or expansive (take a bow Mr Dolan) and then there's been eras where we were both expansive and entertaining (the early Brian Horton years, the promotion team of 2012 under Steve Bruce). This team and set up is definitely not boring. We are going to score plenty, at times ship a few but you really can't not enjoy watching this team.
A case in point Saturday that after going 2-0 down against the run of play, then reduced to ten men, Grant Mc Cann essentially went 4-2-3 and still had a go, if this team are going to go down, it's not with a whimper.
That needs to be acknowledged and the remarkable turnaround of the manager isn't insignificant either, he's done a great job in the last twelve months, and whilst there might be tough periods this season, I think we'll also surprise some clubs who won't be very pleased to lose to "the likes of Hull".
There's a strong argument to say that by not going, the main person who is punished is yourself.
Con number three. Sorry seems to be the hardest word.
I can almost feel the rising blood pressure of some fans. Bear with me.
Old man Allam didn't really wish death on people, it was an unfortunate soundbite by somebody who isn't very good at talking publicly. Clearly. It was really poor.
The members scheme, the lack of concessions, the name change, the "interviews"... all PR disasters and horribly delivered.
Just say sorry and admit that some of these plans didn't work.
Pockets of people from Hull are very stubborn (sorry...but you are!) and an apology would publicly recognise some of lows the fan base have had to swallow.
Whilst there isn't this sort of gesture (and I highly doubt there will be) many aren't coming back, to be honest many won't come back if there was this kind of gesture, but.. it would show at least show a sense of humility which has been sorely lacking at times.
And here we are.
Some people were upset with an attendance of around eleven thousand last week.
But for the brilliant turn around last season and the excellent value of the season passes it would have been much lower.
Those who grew up watching in the seventies, eighties or nineties would have regarded a five figure attendance as being pleasing. The new ground and success of the post millennium era has meant twenty somethings have pretty much never known us to not be in the top two leagues. That's a really positive thing and the amount of club colours you see in Hull is a sign that we're significantly bigger since the new ground was built. I think it's fair to say that we probably have grown as a potential fan base.
It's also fair to say some won't return under the current ownership no matter what I think.
Then there's a difficult truth. There's simply people who were going because we were winning and playing in the Premier League or both. Let's not forget we sold out vs Chelsea in the FA cup two years ago, there's already a plastic crisis in the world, there's clearly one in Hull too.
As many of you know I live in the south, I used to see a lad with City gear on when I went running a few years ago. I got talking to him and he basically said (even though he's from Hull) that he only really was interested when we were in the top league. I haven't spoken to him much since!
If we can go on a run and win a few games this year, if the club can learn from the past and have more of a dialogue with fan groups and if some fans can swallow their pride a bit and support a young Hull based team then hopefully we can expand memberships and start to get near fifteen thousand. I'm not sure you these things will happen and Ross and Rachel may continue to fall in and out of love.
Thank god the season started again and I’m not watching Netflix.