In an age of football when player loyalty lasts about as long as a packet of crisps and squad changes occur daily, the one safety net for fans is that their club will always remain the same. Yes managers and players may come and go, the ownership and control may change hands, but at the end of the day – unless you are Wimbledon or MK Dons – your club remains the same. That means everything, from its history, its beliefs, its rivals, and usually its colors. This week, however, Cardiff City fans – the now inappropriately named “blue birds” – can no longer even hold on to that, following their shift to red kits.
The decision follows the demands of commercialism, and the new owners and investors’ desires to spread the Cardiff City brand. However, the powers that be have yet again failed to take into account the most important market for their “brand” – the supporters. The effects of such a decision could be monumental.
The first concern for the fans will be their rebranding – the “blue birds” will hardly fit a club that plays in red. In effect, everything that the club has developed and established since its foundation will be undermined. Terrace favorites such as ‘blue army’ and ‘bluebirds’ will no longer be heard on match days and, more importantly, their recognition throughout the country and the world will be diminished, as people will no longer see the blue mob singing and walking down the street towards the stadium. Instead they will witness an unruly mix of those willing to invest in red, and those set in their ways of blue.
Obviously I’m being overdramatic, and a tad sarcastic, but surely that is all this decision deserves? Those who understand the passion and commitment fans have for their shirt and club cannot take such a decision seriously. Imagine Liverpool’s famous Kop filled with blue shirts and the the club’s liver bird crest replaced with a boat, or perhaps the famous green and white of Celtic replaced with a more modest black. Everything we recognize about such clubs is held in their crest and their colors.
The decision to separate a club from its color and crest is one that no fan wishes to witness, knowing the history and passion they hold for it. Commercialisation is something football hasn’t been able to resist. The main thing many football investors forget, especially those that hold no real passion for the sport or understanding of its roots, is that the most important market, and the most important brand, is that of the local supporters.