Would you change your Team Colors for any price?
This article titled “Does every kit have its price? Cardiff fans face up to an indecent proposal” was written by John Ashdown, for guardian.co.uk on Wednesday 9th May 2012 11.19 UTC
The first hint came with the news that the Cardiff Blues rugby team were heading out of the Cardiff City Stadium and back to the Arms Park. “This… will allow significant branding to take place at Cardiff City Stadium,” said the football club in a statement.
“Significant branding”? What did that mean? It became clear over the course of the day just how “significant” that branding may be. After 103 years in blue, Cardiff City are planning to change their home kit to red next season and may ditch the bluebird from their club crest in favour of Wales’s national symbol, a red dragon. The sweetener? A rumoured £100m investment from the club’s Malaysian investors.
The rumour mill (not that one) has since cranked into gear – some say owner Vincent Tan believes that playing in blue is bad luck, while others whisper Puma already have a prototype red shirt for next season and the club have ordered 26,000 red seats. Those nuggets of speculation may prove to be wide of the mark, but the kit and badge change does indeed seem to be on the cards.
“We were told in no uncertain terms that this was a fait accompli,” Cardiff City Supporters Trust chairman Tim Hartley told BBC Wales. “This investment is going to come into the club. We were shown a design of the logo, Cardiff City will be playing in red, they will be wearing a dragon on their chests.”
In response the club released a statement that was an object lesson in business-speak. Directors and stakeholders “are in talks to review all operational aspects of the club”; this process is “multifaceted”; any decisions will “include the long term interests of our supporters [and] our community”; the club “appreciate the importance of our history” and “recognise the legitimate interests of the fans, supporters and media”; they want to “ensure our long term success, prosperity and sustainability” and “positively develop the infrastructure of the club”. In five paragraphs they use the phrase “going forward” twice.
A quick Twitter straw poll – “Would you be happy for your team to change kit colour in exchange for major investment?” – brought a resounding and near-universal “NO!” from supporters across the board. I’d go along with that entirely – it’s symptomatic of the success-at-all-costs culture that pervades modern football. History? Pah! Tradition? Meh! Playing at 12.45pm on a Sunday on your way to a 16th-place finish in the Premier League? Bring it on!
But teams never used to be quite so wedded to their colours – Leeds began wearing white in the 1960s at the instruction of Don Revie, Coventry played in varieties of white and blue before switching to sky blue in 1962, Bournemouth played in all-red until a Milan-inspired manager brought in black stripes in the 1970s, Crystal Palace abandoned their old claret and blue for red and blue stripes in 1973, Graham Taylor is responsible for the introduction of red shorts at Watford. They all had their reasons, whether it be commercial or inspirational, and they all thought it might help bring greater success.
Is the problem the moral behind it, then? Changing kits and crests one thing, doing it for £100m another? Unfortunately it looks like Cardiff fans might have to resign themselves to Vincent Tan’s indecent proposal.
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