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Hull City fans’ worries over “loaded” ballot

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and Supporters Direct merged to become the FSA in 2019 – so this page may contain hyperlinks that do not work and/or have missing files. Our archived pages are not maintained and will not be updated.

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Hull City fans have understandable concerns relating to owner Assem Allam’s “loaded” ballot of season ticket holders on the club’s name change. The change was rejected by the FA’s Membership Committee last week and this is Allam’s attempt to resurrect the issue before it goes to the FA Council for ratification. We doubt the Electoral Commission would be impressed. City Independent Editor Ian Waterson’s open letter was sent to Hull City, the FA, the FSF, and SD…

To whom it may concern,

I would like to register my utter contempt for the ballot of season ticket holders that Hull City AFC are currently undertaking.

Hull City season ticket holders are being invited to poll their opinion on the following:

ballot hull city tigers

Aside from the ballot appearing ‘loaded’ I need definitive clarification if this ballot is actually about the proposed name change, or merely a vehicle to dissect the popularity of the Allam family at Hull City AFC?

In addition to that, there are a number of serious issues surrounding this poll – rendering me unable to vote – which I must bring to your attention, including and not limited to:

  • As a season ticket holder, I have still not been emailed my voting entitlement, despite my email address being on the club’s database five days in to the ballot that lasts for seven days. Why has this not been received and how many more season ticket holders are in my position?
  • I have learned people who have subsequently received this email from the club, advising me personally, the system fails to capture your ballot details and they have now been left in a the precarious position of blank forms being returned to the club upon casting their vote. What happens to votes in this case?
  • I have no access to a printer to produce a copy of the blank ballot paper if I wish to vote manually. Do I need to take time off work to visit the stadium and register my vote at huge inconvenience to me and incurring a loss of earnings to do so?
  • At the stadium on Saturday 22nd March before the home match with West Bromwich Albion, I was told by a member of staff that ‘no more ballot papers would be printed out, if none are left at the ballot box’. Why couldn’t more forms be printed off?
  • Evidently, the ballot asks for personal details including my name and address, leaving the club with the power to identify me and my voting choice, as no independent adjudicator is in place. Why is this necessary and what happens to this information?
  • To date, no details have emerged of an independent adjudicator, despite the ballot commencing on 21st March and running until the 28th March to address any of my concerns. Why is no independent adjudicator in place before the ballot commenced – and if there is an independent adjudicator in place, why was that not disclosed to season ticket holders when the poll opened?
  • I have zero confidence that my personal details are being protected, remain open to misuse, or could indeed be subject to manipulation while there is no independent adjudicator appointed from the commencement of the poll. What assurances are in place for season ticket holders choosing to exercise their vote, that their data is being lawfully protected?

In my opinion, all of the above points should’ve been remedied before any polling takes place – leading me to clearly believe there isn’t a robust ballot system in place to fairly canvass Hull City season ticket holders’ views on this matter. Therefore, I am left with no other choice to but to formally register my complaint with the club until all the assurances I’ve outlined can be satisfied.

I also need to make the club aware a copy of this email will be sent to the FA, the Football Supporters’ Federation and Supporters Direct. This is because I would at least like to place my complaint on record with other parties that may hold a vested interest in this ballot, while no independent adjudicator is in place to contact me and address my concerns.

Yours faithfully, Ian Waterson.

Hull City AFC Season Card holders (adults, seniors and 16-22 year-olds) have until midnight on Friday 28th March to register their vote.

The FSF blog is the space to challenge perceived wisdom, entertain readers and inform our members. The views expressed are those of the author and they don’t necessarily represent FSF policy and (pay attention journalists) shouldn’t be attributed to the FSF.

Thanks to Action Images for the image used in this blog.

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