Tonight Cardiff City have finally reached the summit of the English football pyramid after years of faltering at the last hurdle. Congratulations to them. Where the majority of fans will be elated at the thought of playing Manchester United and a top flight derby game with Swansea, there are a few who called themselves fans this time last year that find themselves apathetic towards this success.
Before the start of this season there was speculation of a rebranding at Cardiff City, from the traditional blue home kit with a bluebird on the badge to a red home kit with a Welsh dragon replacing the beloved bluebird. Dismissed as rumours initially, it turned out to be very much in the pipeline. I first came across the rumour on a fan’s forum and set about ridiculing the idea. “How could they propose that? What tangible benefits could there be? This is laughable, it’ll never happen.”
The club did in fact confirm that they wanted to go ahead with the rebrand, but were met with opposition, so Vincent Tan played his trump card. It was well known for some time that the club was in some financial trouble, this was used as a tool for scaremongering amongst fans who had been made aware of the club’s precarious situation and the possible investment from Vincent Tan.
A statement was released from the then chairman, Dato Chan Tien Ghee:
“In the light of the vociferous opposition by a number of the fans to the proposals being considered, as expressed directly to our local management and through various media and other outlets, we will not proceed with the proposed change of colour and logo and the team will continue to play in blue at home for the next season with the current badge.
“We will now reassess in conjunction with the board of the club the future strategy and the further ongoing investment necessary to allow the club to continue to trade. This may include looking for new and additional partners and investors.”
And with that, the club’s fans were left with a simple choice. Accept the rebrand and the club will receive investment, or reject it and we’ll “reassess” any further investment. As it was put at the time, the choice was “red or dead”.
The fear of ending up like Portsmouth, going from one administration to the next, played on the mind of the Cardiff City supporter. This statement had caused a panic, and within a month the rebrand was back on the table. The first I’d heard about it was about a day before the official announcement, a friend of mine had told me that some red shirts had been delivered to the Cardiff City shop. Preposterous, surely this is a lie?! It seems that it may not have been.
At first it seemed that this had split the fans into two distinct groups, those that support the rebrand, and those that don’t. But it was more complicated than that. There are those that completely support the rebrand and take issue with those that oppose it. Those that didn’t like it, but support the club regardless. Those that won’t buy the shirt, and then, those like me, who decided the only way to resist these changes was an outright boycott of the club.
I am in the minority, I would like to think that those who still attend games are begrudgingly accepting of the red kit that confronts them, but I’m not sure anymore. The reality of just how much I am in the minority hit me in February when Brighton came to the Cardiff City Stadium. Each fan who entered the stadium was offered a free red scarf. One fan snapped by the club photographer while wearing a complimentary scarf would win a season ticket for the 2013/14 season, surely the masses would not stand for this?
But not only did they stand, they waved and flaunted their free scarves. The stadium was awash with red.
Over the course of season I’ve been told that I’d be buried if I protested, that I should “just support the fucking club”, that I have no right to oppose the changes because I wasn’t there in the seventies, and so on. I try to avoid conversations about football with people I meet now; otherwise it makes for an awkward chat on how I feel about the club. I don’t meet many people who think like me.
So, congratulations Bluebirds, I hope you enjoy your tenure in the Premier League. May it be long and prosperous. I’m sorry I can’t be there, me and my stupid principles. Perhaps one day you’ll understand.
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