Hull FC memorabilia row: Ehab Allam admits relationship with FC fans may be damaged beyond repair
Hull City owner Ehab Allam has spoken with Paul Baxter about the strained relationship he has with Hull FC fans
EHAB Allam accepts he and his father Assem's relationship with Hull FC's fans is probably already damaged beyond repair.
Following the storm over club pictures and memorabilia being removed from the KC Stadium last week, fans have bombarded the Mail with emails claiming it is the first step towards erasing FC from the KC for good.
Having bought Hull City in December 2010, and at the same time taking control of the Stadium Management Company (SMC), FC fans have always viewed the Allams' impartiality with some suspicion.
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Matters were perhaps not helped when they handed a £1m loan to FC's bitter rivals Hull KR in 2011.
Add in to the equation their sacking of FC owner Adam Pearson from his role as Hull City's head of football last summer, and it is easy to see why FC fans have their doubts.
Recently, internet forums have been full of rumour – written as fact – that the Allams have even bought land at the YPI, Hull's training ground, in a bid to prevent Pearson developing facilities.
Mr Allam insists they have not, though, and says their dispute with Pearson was settled amicably, and in a "more than a fair" manner.
He also says that through the terms of the KC lease agreement, they are greatly helping Hull financially through the SMC, taking a £280,000 loss on the chin through "rugby related costs" last year.
Now, in the face of a public storm against he and his father, Mr Allam has claimed talk of Hull FC paying a £600,000-a-year rental charge for using the stadium to be "massively misleading".
He challenged Hull FC to waive a confidentiality clause over their SMC agreement, saying he would be happy for an "open book" on all matters around the running of the KC.
"I would urge Hull FC to agree to lifting the confidentiality over this matter and then the public can be given the full picture," Mr Allam told the Mail.
"At present, I feel they are being seriously misled and I have nothing to hide. Let's make this a matter open to the public and let everybody see the full agreements between the SMC and the two clubs.
"I would be happy for it to be an open book. At least then fans would have the full picture."
Many Hull FC fans strongly believe their club is being given a raw deal.
But Mr Allam has revealed their agreement with the SMC, which runs until 2028, has twice been amended in their favour, in 2005 and 2006.
"The football contract has not changed since the original agreement, but the rugby one has changed twice in favour of FC," he said.
"The major change is that although the SMC, at one point, had an option to buy a certain amount of Premier Club season passes, it then became an obligation.
"We are now obligated to buy in excess of £140,000 worth of passes every year.
"I can't comment on the reasons why that was changed, as it was before our time, but it guarantees in excess £100,000 of passes at Hull FC every year. That is a direct loss to the SMC."
Mr Allam also revealed a £70,000 loss to the SMC last year for subsidising catering and beer sales at FC, as well as a cost in excess of £100,000 to cover policing and stewarding at FC games.
No such agreements are in place with Hull City and Mr Allam feels the whole issue around pictures and memorabilia has far from told the full story. "With the recent criticism over the handling of the Hull FC memorabilia, I get the impression there is a feeling that we are specifically targeting Hull FC and we are being detrimental to the club," he said.
"I want now to paint the bigger picture and explain the problems with the SMC and the reasons for introducing a change to the practices.
"With regards to Johnny Whiteley, I hope the Hull FC fans can maybe forgive my ignorance of the heritage of the rugby club.
"There was no malice intended. I was not really aware of the specific issue around Johnny's picture.
"I also think Adam Pearson cannot be blamed, as he has been mainly a football man, and perhaps he didn't appreciate how fans would react.
"But if I am ignorant of the rugby heritage, Hull FC as a club are not.
"FC Voices are also fully aware of the heritage, but nobody brought this issue up in the past around Johnny. Hull FC specifically instructed us to take them all down."
Mr Allam says Hull FC were first informed of the planned charges for memorabilia at the KC Stadium last summer.
The costs, which were introduced after benchmarking the pricing against other shared stadiums in the UK, sees the clubs charged £10,800 for using 36 display sites across the stadium.
Both Hull FC and Hull City were told they could buy as many or as few of the 36 sites, costing £300 each for the year.
Other areas of the stadium were also offered, including the front west stand entrance facade at £25,000 a season, and reception displays at £6,000 a season.
Aware he and his father were already viewed with some distrust by the FC faithful, Mr Allam insists they deliberately gave the rugby club the first options.
"This is a new charge, but it is consistent to both clubs," Mr Allam said.
"People have asked why, but quite simply we have had to raise extra revenue because of the SMC losses.
"We were aware of the risk of Hull FC fans thinking there is a bias to the football club, so we were very cautious and informed the rugby club well in advance.
"They were aware of this as early as July last year, and the external branding was offered to Hull FC before it was offered to Hull City, as was the reception.
"Because they declined, it was then offered to the Tigers at the same rate. They took up the offer of the entrance, which now has the big Tigers eyes, the reception, and 36 sites.
"The Tigers have paid to look after the heritage of the football club and that's only right, because the SMC must remain neutral in these matters. You would expect Hull FC to pay for the rugby heritage."
While admitting he may have considered retaining the image of Whiteley, in particular, had he been made aware of the sentiment before charges were brought in, Allam is not one for doing U-turns, especially in the face of such stinging criticism.
"I think it's too late," when asked if Johnny Whiteley's image could return free of charge.
"The damage is already done and our reputation has already been tarnished.
"I am going to find it hard to go back when the people in the know did not take the opportunity to raise it and stop it.
"We have had people contact us saying they would be willing to pay the £300 for the picture of Johnny to go back up, so we have passed them on to Hull FC.
"We really are trying to do our best for the community and the stadium.
"I don't think it is fair for me to receive this amount of criticism for a small fee of £300 a year, when we are putting so much into the stadium and investing our money in new technology.
"I am not trying to make money. I am trying to stop losses. How can we be criticised for that?"
Hull FC have so far declined to comment.