Ripping Up Traditions, The Cardiff City Way

By on Jun 6, 2012 in Latest, Opinion | 22 comments

Considering that they are making a pact with the devil, it is perhaps appropriate that Cardiff City will be playing in red from the start of next season. It was at the end of last month that the club first announced that it was to change its colours in accordance with the request of the clubs new Malaysian investors, who consider red a “luckier” colour in the Far East and that it will allow more people in that part of the world to identify with their – hold your noses – “brand”. The discord that it brought about meant that the plans were initially put on the back burner but rumours, fuelled by a tame local press, began to resurface recently that it wasn’t as dead and buried as many might have hoped and this morning came a press release that will have sunk the hearts of many – but not all – supporters of the club. Cardiff City will be wearing red and black from the start of next season, and in addition to this the clubs badge has relegated its traditional bluebird to a mere after-thought, tucked away underneath a picture of a dragon.

Of course, no modern club would seek to push through such an obviously controversial and divisive move without at least paying lip service to the tradition that they are ripping up in the pursuit of money, so this mornings press release was full of the weasel words of the marketing man.”There is no getting away from the fact that history and traditions are the lifeblood of any club”, it said, before feebly adding that, “we believe that this is the right direction for this club and where it currently stands”, all of which begs the rather obvious question of why such sacred traditions are being ripped up if they are so important in the first place.

Otherwise, this press release was exercise in corporate platitudes of the worst sort: “The changes to the home kit introduced as a consequence of the investment package are designed to help the club to develop its brand and to allow it to expand its appeal to as wide an audience as possible, with a view to delivering local success via an international and diverse market”, which seasoned observers of such language may well acknowledge as being just one “synergy” from a full house. Such language makes a lots of noise but says little of any value – it is often little more than lip service towards understanding the whys and wherefores behind a decision having been taken.  

This wasn’t the only lip service being paid in the clubs press statement. The success of various kinds of democracy at clubs in recent years has led to a disturbing trend for clubs themselves to start using a veneer of democracy in an attempt to vindicate and lend an air of respectability to what could be considered to be unpopular decisions. The club claims in its press release that polls carried out by its Supporters Club and Media Wales have shown considerable support for the idea, but the use of such polls to try and prove such a point is so flawed an idea that the fact that it is being talked about seriously is somewhat extraordinary in itself.

It certainly seems odd – out of kilter from what we would expect from supporters, to say the least - to see a majority supporting such a controversial move, but it is also worth asking the question of how rigourously scientific these polls might have been, because there don’t seem to be – and this is really no more scientific than any poll not carried out by a professional polling company – many Cardiff City supporters on the clubs forums that are so much as  grudgingly in favour of the decision. Considering how easy it can be to manipulate opinion polls to say anything whatsoever, such polls are best treated with caution and it is surprising – or this case perhaps not - to see them being wheeled out as some sort of conclusive proof that supporters are massively in favour of the decision.

Even if we are to assume that there is a proportion of the clubs support that is in favour of the decision – be that 10%, 30% or even 50% – then this seems a move that will only prove to be a divisive one amongst the clubs support, and to understand why so many are so angry about it is to get under the skin of what it means to be a football supporter for many. The game itself has changed a lot of the last twenty years or so, but the rates of change have varied from club to club. For Cardiff City supporters, the club that they support will shortly be both visibly and metaphorically unrecognisable from the one that they have followed until relatively recently. A little more than three years ago, the team that they supported played at the ramshackle but homely Ninian Park, was nicknamed the Bluebirds and wore blue and white, as it had done for longer than living memory. As of this morning, Cardiff City plays its home matches at The Cardiff City Stadium, is nicknamed the Red Dragons and wears red and black. This, some may well feel, is no longer Cardiff City in much but name.

On top of this, there may be some who feeled betrayed by a club which, just a few weeks ago, stated that it had listened to their concerns in put these very plans on the back burner. There will also be those who are unhappy being put in this position by new owners or at the direction that modern football is taking in a broader sense and for whom this is a tipping point in favour of walking away from the game altogether. This may also inform why the supporters of other clubs may well be watching how this club starts next season with considerable interest. There are plenty of other owners who may well believe that their team would be more successful or attract more money from investors if they were only to change their colours. Whether this sort of “blue sky thinker” will encouraged by Cardiff’s decision is something that we will only find out in the future. In the meanntime, perhaps it is time for the FA and the Football League to offer greater protection to colours and badges, which may seem on the surface to be trivial but ultimately form an intrinsic part of the identity of a football club.

It seems doubtful that there will be many wishing them well from outside, while on the inside track anything but a very successful start to the season may see the levels of rancour amongst the clubs support start to rise and greater numbers of supporters start to drift away. In addition to this, even those that do stay behind have now got a stick with which to metaphorically beat the owners of the club should Premier League football not be forthcoming at the end of next season, and as such the owners of the club are taking a considerably greater gamble than their press release lets on. It should also be remembered that if the owners of a football club are to be considered custodians of the shared history and heritage of a club, then the owners of Cardiff City and those that are throwing money at it in return for its soul have already failed in this respect. It is a decision that they may well come to repent at their leisure.

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    22 Comments

  1. The club were losing over £1m a month , the investment will clear historical debt and allow the club to not just survive but move forward. New training facillities , new investment in the playing squad , expansion of the stadium etc Its not all doom and gloom and we stay CARDIFF CITY FC.

    Ideally we would have loved to have stayed Blue AND have the investment. But you look at the likes of Pompey and Rangers , ask a Pompey fan if they would have changed colour to secure the investment , I think they propably would have and that was the situation we were in. It is financially tough times for all and our clubs are not immune to this. This has provided security and a future for Cardiff City FC

    Mac

    June 6, 2012

  2. Whilst i am anti the colour change, I am wondering where it is published that our new nickname is the Red Dragons?

    Also i believe the Cardiff City Stadium (also a very poor name!) was being built before the Malaysians were involved. Happy to be corrected.

    Ian Ballinger

    June 6, 2012

  3. I look forward to seeing the massive surge in support from football supporters in Malaysia much like Blackburn have benefitted from in India…oh.

    The only way to gain ‘international support’ is to spunk billions on ‘big name’ international footballers and play consistently in the Champions League like Chelsea. Even Manchester City haven’t yet broken through as a well-supported team abroad. That the owners have insisted on this condition to provide investment doesn’t reflect well on them at all.

    Tim Vickerman

    June 6, 2012

  4. Im not a Cardiff fanbut im pretty disgusted with this rebranding of a club with a fantastic fan base and own sense of history.

    This colour shift will matter not one jot in the long term. Totally sick of foreign owners coming in and do what the hell the like.Talk about being held to ransome…change or we are off??.

    Good luck seriously!!.I give it five years before your fans speak out and you revert back to Blue.Looking like Man Utd isnt going to make someone in India buy a CCFC shirt.Madness!.

    All the best Blue Birds!!.

    Ciaran McElaine

    June 6, 2012

  5. The absurdity of this is the “we’re losing a million quid a month! We need this investment!” excuse.

    You don’t need investment. You need to cut your outgoings, like any normal business would.

    But even if you accept the need for investment, there’s no reason except the personal whim of the owner for the colours to be changed.

    Why aren’t there Football League rules against this kind of thing?

    Alex

    June 6, 2012

  6. Whereas many clubs have changed kit colour since they were formed Cardiff City have pretty much kept the same colours since 1908. The shade of blue has changed.

    Dan Braddock

    June 6, 2012

  7. The owners are trying to repair the historical debt and put the club on a solid footing!!! I’d rather have a club to support than none at all!!! Like I said Ideally playing in Blue!!! The mess created by previous owners has forced this upon us , if you can find another investor prepaired to step in and keep the club afloat whilst playing in Blue then please enlighten me?!?! I’d be delighted with that. Plus we as fans dont have a say , what fans do anymore???!!!!

    Any ideas welcome????? still waiting????
    1st choice , remain in Blue (duh) with no investment , enter admin within a few weeks.
    2nd choice , play at home in Red with investment. Ensure the long term future of the club.

    Mac

    June 6, 2012

  8. Dragons are considered lucky in China, as is the colour red. I have no idea what Malaysian’s think, but their probably all triads as well. (hehe…)

    No seriously I mean if it is the whim of the owner and in return he will give 40m or more then the fans should line up to kiss his feet really, as the poster above says, it may be the alternative thanks to Sam Hammam was bankruptcy.

    I am also reminded of the people I meet in life who support a team because they like their shirts, I make a note of mocking them, sometimes openly.

    Martin

    June 6, 2012

  9. Another alternative of course is to cut the outgoings so the club isn’t losing £1m per month.

    It’s not all about the Premier League you know. Except of course, it is, it seems.

    Good luck selling your soul for one day in the distant future finishing 9th in the EPL. Result.

    Steve Thomas

    June 6, 2012

  10. Hey, casual racism and uncritical sucking up to foreign oligarchs- never an easy double to pull off, top marks Martin.

    HARRY

    June 6, 2012

  11. Here’s the other thing, the investment has been sold in conjunction with the ‘rebrand’ (hate that word in a football context, urgh) but the real question is…why do they want red as a colour so much? Why does the money HAVE to be accompanied by a colour change? If they wanted red, weren’t there other clubs they could buy? Bristol City? Wrexham?

    Alex

    June 6, 2012

  12. Late 19th century, early 20th century so many clubs chose a community over a company to become succesful and fans became part of their club. Thank you supporters …

    Only investing when colours and logo are changed, isn’t a good strategy. If I was CCFC-fan I would be very worried about the future of my club. The historic debt can become more historical.

    If the CCFC-team isn’t performing on the pitch, I’m sure many fans will turn their back (if that isn’t already the case right now).

    Jay

    June 6, 2012

  13. This might be a bit “how the other half lives,” but I’d note that in most American sports, teams change colours and crests without a second thought but think that shirt sponsorship is a Faustian bargain.

    It’s worth thinking about that in the midst of this big laundry controversy.

    Gareth

    June 6, 2012

  14. Similar parallels with the Hyde United situation where – ironically – they changed their colours from red to blue as part of a tie in with Man City http://www.twohundredpercent.net/?p=8057

    I wonder if Cardiff would have changed their strip if the investors wanted them to play in white?

    Mike Bayly

    June 6, 2012

  15. Proofs in the pudding. If the Vincent Tan will bring investment and success, he should show his hand first, and impose his whims after, say, promotion. No one will buy championship shirts in Asia anyway. So far Cardiff have no investment and are being changed into a team representing Wales, not the city of Cardiff. Almost mkdons-esque. I feel very sorry for the fans.

    reading fan

    June 7, 2012

  16. Re Mike Bayly’s comment – interesting that Hyde reverted to red for 2011-12 (while keeping the Man City connection), won the Blue Square North and will now be entertaining the likes of Stockport, Luton, Grimsby etc. No necessary connection, of course …

    mike

    June 7, 2012

  17. As a Watford fan I can’t stand Cardiff. No club has caused us more trouble in the last 10 years than them. Ripping us off with transfers, tapping up players, fans kicking off, not to mention their more general cheating with dubious loan signings and constant winding up orders. They’re the one club I’d be happy to see go into administration and drop down a division or two.

    However, I’d hate to see the current developments take place at my club and I’m sure there must be a small minority of decent human beings who deserve sympathy amongst Cardiff’s mob of fans.

    If the Malaysian dream of a single Welsh club is to come to pass, then – Come on Swansea!

    Jam

    June 7, 2012

  18. There’s already a Welsh club, playing in red and nicknamed the Dragons- Wrexham FC. If CCFC do want to sell their identity why do they want compound the sin by nicking Wrexham’s identity at the same time?

    Gareth J

    June 7, 2012

  19. would you rather see your club go bust or have to sell your best players?
    its just a colour,(the colour of money,granted) but at least your clubs future is secure.

    Wish they would have invested in pompey instead tho!

    Pompey Andy

    June 7, 2012

  20. I’m a Luton fan and a similar thing happened to us a couple of years ago. To tie in with a sponsorship from easyjet our home kit was changed from white to orange. It wasn’t as stronger change as all it meant for us was switching our home and away kits around. For Cardiff to change from blue to red is quite baffling really. no one from Asia is gonna buy a Cardiff shirt just because it is red. If they want a red football shirt they will buy Man u, Liverpool or Arsenal.

    Gary

    June 8, 2012

  21. I wonder whether “Mac” and similar thinkers will complain about being deducted 10 points when these owners leave, they go into administration.

    Followed by the “why should we be punished for the previous owners?”

    Disaster waiting to happen. Just remember the Blackburn fans cheering the chicken people when they turned up.

    Jertzee

    June 8, 2012

  22. JAM – fair play pal , still on the bitter I see?!?!?

    Mac

    June 12, 2012

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