Today Simon Kirby, the MP for Kemptown and Peacehaven, asked his constituents for their opinion on a request to change the name of Whitehawk Football Club to Brighton City. The football club has submitted a request to the FA to change its playing name to Brighton City with effect from the start of the 2016/2017 season.
Simon said “I have been asked to give my opinion on this but as a firm supporter of both Brighton and Hove Albion and Whitehawk, I am asking my constituents to email me and let me know their views so that I can give a representative response. This is not the first time Whitehawk Football Club have tried to change their name as they have applied to do so once before. However, the application was rejected by the FA after objections were raised, including the worry that having two clubs sharing the same geographical identifier might confuse emergency services, a worry that has yet to cause issues in Bristol, Sheffield or Manchester. John Summers, the chairman of Whitehawk FC, is yet to be deterred by the vigorous opposition from Brighton and Hove Albion as well as other locals, and is appealing the FA’s decision. He said “We need the name change to progress the club as we wish, for corporate and business reasons it makes sense”.
For a long time Whitehawk FC was a staple of the Sussex County League, but after an investment from Summers and his business partner Peter McDonnell, they have since secured three promotions. However, Summers thinks that the failure to change names is holding them back. He said “There’s people outside Brighton who don’t know what Whitehawk is or even where it is, while people in Brighton still see Whitehawk as a very deprived and dangerous estate, that stops people coming to see us”. Some areas in Whitehawk have been named as amongst the most deprived in the country, behind Tower Hamlets in London and Moss Side in Manchester. Whitehawk Football Club have also been the subject of controversy, particularly after the conviction and imprisonment of Michael Boateng, one of their former players, for match-fixing.
However, with the investment from Summers and fourteen new players brought in last summer, Whitehawk FC seem to be going places. Sergio Torres, their Argentine midfielder, said “we try to play the right way, on the floor. It is not easy on the pitches in non-League, but it is always our priority. You look around and you think ‘these are good players. And they love playing here. The fans have been fantastic. They are the noisiest I have played in front of. Win lose or draw, they never stop singing’ ”.
If you are part of the Kemptown and Peacehaven constituency and you want to email Simon Kirby your views, you can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org (don’t forget to include your full name and postal address).
What do you think? Should Whitehawk FC be allowed to change their name? Comment below. We would love to hear your thoughts
all images belong to Whitehawk FC