Hull City chairman Assem Allam will donate up to £1m to the Labour party, after having dinner with former Prime Minister Tony Blair. However, it is believed that the businessman will only put up the cash if Ed Miliband is prepared to take on the trade unions.
Allam has already donated £200,000 to Labour, with the promise of £300,000 more to come. However, he is to double that to £1m, with the additional £500,000 coming if Labour weakens its traditional ties to the big trade unions.
The most recent round of party funding data showed that Unison, Unite, and the GMB unions had all donated £1m each to Labour.
“I hope I can inspire other like-minded business people to do the same so that the Labour Party can stand on its own without having to satisfy one paymaster,” Allam told the Sunday Times.
Jim Sheridan, chairman of the Unite MPs group, hit back, saying that if Allam and Blair “cannot be helpful and positive and supportive I would rather they just shut up.” Allam is a critic of Labour’s mansion tax policy.
PROFILE: ASSEM ALLAM
Assem Allam, the entrepreneur and football club owner, is no stranger to the kind of controversy that raged around him yesterday. He arrived in the UK having been a highly politicised critic of Colonel Nasser’s dictatorship in his homeland of Egypt, and has previously commented to the BBC that he “had my share of torture” as a result.
Allam now owns the company Allam Marine, which he founded in 1992 with £20 given to him by a sympathetic bank. It sells industrial and marine generating sets, and has generated a fortune of £320m for Allam.
He may have saved Hull City by buying it and clearing its debts with one £27m payment. but his attempt to rename the club Hull Tigers, in a bid to make the side more marketable abroad, was met with fury by many of the club’s fans. At the time, the Hull City supporters’ trust slammed the move, forming the City ‘Til We Die campaign.
The name change proposal was rejected by the FA Council last April, but Allam then decided to go to arbitration to get this overturned. On Friday, the FA told the Hull City Supporters Trust that a decision on the arbitration will be made “in the near future”. Allam has publicly threatened not to invest any more money into Hull City and to sell up if his appeal is unsuccessful.