Cardiff City, the home of the Welsh National Assembly, has a Football Club with the proud claim of being the only team from outside England to have won the FA cup. Now its fans struggle with the rebranding required by its financial backers
December 20th 2013
A summary of the interim happenings can be found in The Telegraph article which catalogs a series of battles between the Malaysian owners and their executives. CEO Vincent Tan has become a central figure in a battle to oust the much-respected manager Malky Mackay
The story illustrates the issues of football fans whose loyalty is rooted in the historical traditions of their club, facing financial requirements for survival into the future.
The Bluebirds have always played in blue, and have a bluebird symbol on the club crest. Its new owners have stipulated that the team will play in Red, and will be known as The Dragons.
A confusion of symbols
There is some irony in the change. The Welsh rugby team plays in red. One nearby regional rugby team is known as The Scarlets, and another, The Dragons. The national flag sports a red dragon (Y Ddraig Goch).
Perhaps the new owners had a sense that the proposed changes would be recognised for such cultural implications.
Press reports indicated that local sensitivities had been acknowledged:
The club unveiled three new strips – a red home shirt, a blue away strip, and a third kit, which is mainly black. The new kits bear a redesigned badge, incorporating a main image of a dragon, with a small bluebird inserted underneath, and carrying the slogan “Fire and Passion”.
In addition, the club have announced plans to build a new training ground, pay off their debt with the Langston company, provide the manager Malky Mackay with a substantial kitty, and explore the possibility of expanding the Cardiff City Stadium.
The move came less than a month after the club’s chairman Dato Chan Tien Ghee said the proposal to change to red shirts had been dropped due to “vociferous opposition” after the plans were leaked.
In an open letter to fans, the chairman said: “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.”
He continued: “In the light of the vociferous opposition by a number of the fans to the proposals being considered … 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.”
“You can’t rebrand history”
The change indicates the complex nature of commitment. Some Cardiff City fans have accepted the new strip, and the rebranding of the club. Others disagree. “You can’t rebrand history” one remarked.
The colour of coincidence?
When Malaysian entrepreneur Chan Tien Ghee became chairman in May 2010, his longer-term goal was promotion the Premier League. At the time, he made the almost heretical decision to hire a rugby figure, Gethin Jenkins, from Newport Gwent Dragons, to become Chief Executive of the club. Rugby? Red Dragons?
Maybe Mr Chan’s information did not indicate that Cardiff City supporters tend to loathe the city’s Rugby team (aka The Blues) almost as much as they hate their near neighbours Swansea City (The Seagulls, aka The Whites).