Another damning indictment of SISU as part of an article that highlights the failing of the game's administrators. Oliver Kay Chief Football Correspondent December 14 2013 Choose football. Choose a club. Choose a vanity purchase. Choose a leveraged buyout. Choose dragging a club into hundreds of millions of pounds of debt, running up huge interest payments every year, just to prop up your own investment. Choose being dismissive, contemptuous and silent. Choose being open, desperate to please but hopelessly naive. Choose living the dream and then leaving behind a nightmare. Choose pumping in hundreds of millions of pounds and running the club as a dictatorship. Choose paying an £11 million dividend to one of your own companies. Choose sacking your manager, hiring a friend of a friend, thinking you know best and then showing you know nothing. Choose alienating your fanbase by inflating ticket prices. Choose turning a proud old club into an advertising vehicle for a country, a downmarket sports shop or takeaway chicken. Choose selling the stadium’s name, changing the club’s name, changing the kit colours. Choose relocating to Milton Keynes or Northampton. Choose charging for newspaper interviews. Choose official integrated telecommunications partners in Benin, Bahrain and Bangladesh. Choose selling your soul to the highest bidder. Choose English football. You get the picture. It is not just about Assem Allam’s attempts to turn Hull City into Hull Tigers or Vincent Tan’s unedifying rebranding of Cardiff City or Mike Ashley’s constant cheapening of Newcastle United or the Glazer family’s leeching of Manchester United or the atrocities inflicted on Birmingham City, Blackburn Rovers, Coventry City, Portsmouth, York City and various other clubs in recent times. No, the real issue here is the common theme that runs through all this: the unravelling of football’s rich tapestry by businessmen who correctly sense that the English game brings all manner of opportunities for self-aggrandisement and unregulated abuse of proud old institutions while the authorities shake their heads solemnly before shrugging and saying there is nothing they can do about it, guv. Increasingly, it feels as if that particular horse has already bolted, that there is no use trying to shut the stable door now when Portsmouth have dropped three divisions or when Manchester United have spent more than £500 million in eight years to prop up the Glazer family’s ownership or when attendances at Blackburn have plummeted in three years under the calamitous ownership of Venky’s or when Coventry are playing to pitiful crowds in Northampton while the purpose-built Ricoh Arena sits empty because of a dispute between a hedge fund and Coventry City Council. The authorities have proved spectacularly useless when it has come to stopping the various forms of corporate vandalism that have followed the diversification of club ownership in English football. A similar verdict was reached in 2011 by a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee into football governance, which stated that “the FA, Premier League and Football League have spent too long behind the curve on ownership matters”, allowing “some startlingly poor business practices to occur, and have tolerated an unacceptably low level of transparency”. The most troubling thing of all is how weak English football’s authorities are when these issues arise. The classic case came in 2002, when an FA-appointed commission greased the wheels of the bandwagon that took Wimbledon to Milton Keynes, which, it said, “provides a suitable and deserving opportunity where none exists in South London”. The FA received assurances that Wimbledon’s identity would be retained in Milton Keynes — as if that were even possible — but, to nobody’s surprise, the re-franchising was complete when the club was renamed MK Dons in 2004. Compared to all this, Tan’s rebranding of Cardiff, wearing red shirts rather than blue, and Allam’s proposed relaunch of Hull as Hull Tigers might seem relatively trivial. A personal view, though, is that both cases show an appalling disregard to their club’s heritage andfor the feelings of supporters and that, for your average football supporter and indeed reporter, these are small but significant conflicts in a wider battle to preserve the soul of English football. By far the least significant of the football crimes listed above are Newcastle’s plans, more embryonic than reported, to persuade newspapers to pay for the right to be “media partners”, presumably on the condition that it is accompanied by the type of soft-soap reporting that so many clubs seem to imagine is the media’s duty. Again, this is symptomatic of a wider issue. It is not about media relations, even if Newcastle are a sad case in that department, having banned their three local newspapers for sympathising with those protesting against the Mike Ashley regime. No, what grates most here is that this daft initiative has come from a club that did not request a penny from Ashley’s company when, for 11 embarrassing months, St James’ Park, the club’s home since 1892, was rebranded as Sports Direct Arena before Wonga.com restored a little of the class for which they are so well known. Manchester United’s pursuit of logistics partners, noodle partners and official snack partners — “with a history of success and not compromising on quality, Mister Potato shares our commitment to excellence” and no, I’m not joking — makes financial sense. One cannot help recalling, though, that so much of the money that club makes goes into sustaining the Glazer regime or that the club’s otherwise impeccable tributes on the 50th anniversary of the Munich tragedy were besmirched, horribly, by an AIG logo on the huge mural outside Old Trafford. It is typical, every bit of it, of a culture that knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. Allam seemed one of those owners that appreciated the wider value of a club, having invested so much in Hull and then propelling them forward, but his disdain for the supporters’ view over his Hull Tigers proposal is appalling. “We’re City till we die,” they chant. “They can die as they want,” he said, having earlier stated that “No one on earth is allowed to question how I do my business.” Allam claims that he rejects “Hull City” because “City is also associated with Leicester, Bristol, Manchester and many other clubs. City is a lousy identity.” Only a cynic would suggest that Allam’s real issue with “Hull City” stems from his longstanding grievances with Hull City Council, who own the KC Stadium and have rejected the club’s attempts to buy the freehold. This is what we are dealing with here: the type of owners who feel a club’s heritage is reasonable collateral in a dispute with a local council. A change in name, in Hull’s case, might be reversible, but SISU, the hedge fund that owns Coventry, seem not to care about the damage being done by their senseless decision to relocate to Northampton out of spite towards Coventry City Council, who own the Ricoh Arena. Nobody at Coventry/SISU seems to worry about the long-term issues arising from the fact that a Sky Bet League One club, facing a battle to attract young supporters, has, out of bloody-mindedness, ended up playing its home matches in front of crowds of less than 2,000 and a 40-minute drive away in Northampton. The Football League tried but failed to intervene over Coventry. The FA, in the year that marked their 150th anniversary, have shown themselves to be powerless when such issues have arisen. The self-styled governing body of English football has long washed its hands of such matters. The weakness of the authorities is one of the great regrets of English football in the 21st century. Frustration tends to be focused on the antiquated structure of the FA, with its bloated Council, made up almost entirely of grey-haired men. They are too conservative, we frequently hear. Well, for once, the FA Council has an opportunity to justify its existence. The next step, after Hull submitted its request to change its name , is for the FA Council to decide whether to to ratify the change as per FA rule A3 (l). We often hear the English football is too conservative. In recent years it has been nothing like conservative enough where it has come to containing the whims of owners who, bit by bit, are picking apart the rich tapestry of what they have bought into. The “Hull Tigers” debate might seem relatively trivial compared to some of what has been allowed to go unchecked in recent years, but, if the authorities have any intention of fighting the good fight at last, that club will be City till they die.