The Rebrand - The Story of Cardiff City's Troubles a Year On
This is my debut blog for The Football History Boys or blog in general really, being a Cardiff City season ticket holder and also Liverpool fan (for my sins) in have thing to say! We at TFHB endeavor to bring you a wide variety of topics from across the world covering every aspect of the beautiful game but this one is something that is particularly close to my heart, The Cardiff City Rebrand of 2012.
|TG and Vincent Tan|
The 2011/2012 Championship season finished with yet another failed play off attempt from the Bluebirds. Losing to the eventual promoted team, West Ham, in the semi finals. This followed a cup run in which we lost at Wembley (again!) to Liverpool in the Carling Cup Final on penalties. Supporting both clubs made this an incredible experience, especially Ben Turner’s late extra time equaliser to take it to spot kicks while seeing Liverpool win their first trophy in 5 seasons was a dream too. There is something notable about this though, Cardiff City played in blue and the crest featured a Bluebird. The crest of which carrying great personal significance to The Football History Boys due to former club architect and crest designer Jeffery Jones being Ben's Grandad. This was as it had been since Cardiff City were formed in 1908 out of Riverside A.F.C. but in May 2012 this was all about to change.
Rumors began to circulate on the messageboards that our Malaysian Chairman, Dato Chan Tien Ghee (TG) and his financier Vincent Tan (worth $1.2 billion) were planning a controversial rebrand. This was picked up by local news media and then more further afield. Understandably this decision was met with shock and outrage on the various forums where the potential £100 million investment and the good news that Cardiff Blues rugby club would be moving out of our shared Cardiff City Stadium were not doing much to win fans over. In the following days online protests were launched with fans of many years refusing to accept a Cardiff City in anything other than our historic blue kit. Initially I was of this group but quickly with the assurances that Cardiff would still play in blue, even if it was away, and that there would be no name change as rumored made me believe that it would be worth the investment.
May was a turbulent month in the life of club. Director Steve Borley spent most of it on twitter attempting to calm irate fans as messages sent to the Malaysians became more and more vile. I spent most of my time debating with other fans over the pros and cons of the rebrand, again seeing anger spill over into more vicious outbursts. On May 10th the owners sent out a press release in which TG wrote:
|Cardiff City Badges - Old & New|
"This (the rebrand) was not meant as a slight in any way shape or form on the club's traditions or history which we recognise are the lifeblood of any club. It was intended as a positive change to allow us to adapt and embrace the future. ...We have no desire to cause offence or for people to think we have no respect for the club or its history as it would appear has been suggested in various quarters including by local assembly members. ...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.”
They had pulled the plug, fans weren't happy but this were more than that, they had received “vociferous opposition”. Apparently messages had even been sent to Tan’s son telling him “if you ever set foot in Cardiff again, we’ll break your legs” and worse. This was shameful, despite the hatred towards the plan most sane fans saw this as disgusting. The club’s financial stability was at stake too, Borely confirmed on twitter that if the rebrand was cancelled and the Malaysians left then the club would have no choice but to enter administration. While no one could actually say for definite it led to “red or dead” fears.
The silent majority stepped forward, while the vocal minority of anti-reds sent emails to the club before it was now those who wanted to save their club. Apologies were sent and groveling took place meaning on 6th June 2012 (http/www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-east-wales-18337392) the club confirmed that our new welsh dragon crest with a bluebird (below) and red home kit were finalised. ￼
Alan Whiteley, chief executive of the club called it “a price worth paying” and I agreed. I still do too! £100m was offered: players for a promotion push, stadium expansion, the paying off of debt and a new training ground. This in exchange for playing in blue away instead of at home. This has led to a season of being called “sell outs” by opposition fans and football followers across the world berating modern football that has led to this “buying” of promotion. SV Austria Salzburg fans even held up a banner saying “keep Cardiff blue”. I understand both sides of the argument: while it pains me the club has “sold out” I do think this is the quickest way to ensure promotion to the Premier League after the years of disappointment. We have spent 10 years in the English second tier now, fully established but never quite making it up. This was compounded by rivals Swansea City being promoted and surviving their first season making them the first Welsh club in the English Premier League.
|2012/13 Red Home Kit and Blue Away Kit|
It appears the gamble has paid off. As of 2nd February 2013 Cardiff are 10 points clear at the top of the league after beating Leeds Utd 1-0. Yesterday, season ticket renewals were announced with an assurance that blue would feature in the kit next season. The club did not confirm the safety of the bluebird however and this concerns many, including me. I love Cardiff City, I always will, blue, red, pink, green! Whatever colour we play in with whatever badge it’s still “my only Cardiff” (as the chant goes). For me, it hurts to be considered sell outs by the rest of football but when boiled down to the potential of red or dead it certainly seems more important that the club still exists. I saw fans saying they’d prefer to be in League 2 than play in red, really?! Football clubs are ultimately businesses and the need for Premier League football and it’s £50m a season rewards make it a worthwhile investment. Season tickets sales look set to be high once again and every game is shown on Malaysian television. The signing of Kim Bo-Kyung, our South Korean midfielder, also was a business one. Talented yes, but something that attracts Asian fans towards Cardiff City.
Come May 2013, I fully believe Cardiff will be promoted. It would take something spectacular to throw it away from here with the squad we have and then we will spend a season in the Premiership. Long term survival and profit is the aim and that will come from further short term investment in the playing squad. If in a few years time, Cardiff City are an established Premier League team then it will probably be looked back upon as worth it all. If the blue has disappeared there will be hundreds of disappointed fans but (if not sadly) thousands more who are enjoying the luxury of the the top flight and this, I’m afraid to say, is the state of modern football.
Gareth TFHB (Follow me on twitter @GJ_Thomas)