On 9 April 2014, The FA Council decided to reject an application by Hull City to change its playing name to ‘Hull Tigers’.
Following the majority vote by Council, Hull City commenced arbitration proceedings against The FA challenging the decision to reject the club’s application.
An independent Tribunal has now released its decision in respect of the arbitration. A copy of that decision is available here. The key points to note are summarised below.
Following the decision of the Tribunal, the club’s playing name remains Hull City.
The club raised a number of challenges during the course of the arbitration. These included a competition law challenge, arguments that The FA had failed to follow its own rules and a challenge to the process undertaken by The FA in respect of its name change application. The club was not granted relief by the Tribunal in relation to any of these points.
The Tribunal has, however, set aside the decision taken by The FA Council last year.
The Tribunal has done so on the basis that prior to a decision being taken, a member of the Committee that considered the club’s application expressed a view to supporters of the club that a club’s name should not be changed unless it is clearly demonstrated that the majority of its supporters want that to happen.
The Tribunal held that although a Committee member is entitled to place great weight on the views of supporters, it should not be the only factor to be considered when exercising his or her discretion.
The club remains able to pursue a playing name change for the season 2015/16. In the event that the club wishes to do so, the request will be considered by The FA Membership Committee in accordance with the relevant policy and then by The FA Council in accordance with FA Rule A3(l).