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Take It As Red – Cardiff City Fans Are Singing The Blues

Cardiff City supporters woke up on Wednesday morning like most of the country nursing a post Jubilee hangover; however the Bluebird fans were about to be dealt a sickening body blow to accompany it – one which quickly sobered every Bluebird up.

Hidden in a long, waffling, but carefully worded statement from the club’s board of directors which began “City Football Club are delighted to announce that Tan Sri Vincent Tan and Dato Chan Tien Ghee (“Our Investors”) have pledged their continuing commitment to enable the club to plan for the future.” Was the news that “The rebranding of Cardiff City Football Club would be reactivated.”

In other words The Bluebirds would now play at home in red and black with a prominent Red Dragon on the badge along with an ironic new motto ‘Fire and Passion.’  Ironic because that’s the one thing the team had not played with for much of the later part of last season

The rest of the statement outlined proposals’ which all hang on being able to settle the clubs long-standing Langston debt. The only thing that anyone can take to be 100% cast iron truth from the statement is that Tan Sri Vincent Tan and Dato Chan Tien Ghee are dishonourable untrustworthy men who lied not only to the Bluebird supporters and The Welsh Assembly, but also to worldwide media. For on the 10th May 2012 they issued the following statement

“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. We would have hoped that the significant investment made to date would have already demonstrated our good faith in that regard. Indeed, we are disappointed that anybody would think the contrary. 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.”

Yes you read that right it does say in black and white the exact opposite of what has happened they went back on a promise the words “The team will continue to play in blue at home for the next season with the current badge.” Is a blatant lie, meaning nothing the owners of Cardiff City ever say now will be believable, be it the promise the team will not be renamed the Red Dragons or the Cardiff Dragons, that Cardiff City stadium will not be painted red and that the seats will remain blue, or that there will even be the investment all must be taken now with a pinch of salt.

An act of faith may have sweetened the bitter pill more for some, a big new signing modelling the new home kit for instance, however this didn’t happen and the part of the statement about the funds for new players is particularly carefully worded and is further called into doubt by the fact that in the January transfer window and subsequent loan window no new signings were made despite Cardiff being on the edge of automatic promotion and clearly needing a new striker and pacey attacking winger to consolidate their position. Had such players been acquired then promotion very well could have been automatically sealed,  bringing with it the windfall promotion to the Premier League garnishes, why that didn’t happen was never explained.

Those lies however served a purpose because naturally once that statement stating that the rebranding was off had been issued, Bluebird supporters relaxed and thought the re-branding silliness had been put to bed. However then worry that the investors may pull out began to spread. A group of fans started to panic and attack those who had stood firm for the traditions and history of the club they pointed to the fact that there had been no Bluebird on the badge worn by the FA Cup winning team of 1927. This is true, however the coat of arms of the city of Cardiff was worn by special mayoral approval for that ONE game every other badge had either carried a prominent Bluebird or the word its self!

Also they argued that Cardiff City hadn’t always been Blue but had played in amber and chocolate colours, this isn’t true they were the colours of Riverside AFC the club from which Cardiff City FC sprang, the parent club existed for less than a decade, whereas Cardiff City have played football at home in a blue strip for more than 110 years.

None of the Cardiff City supporters are truly happy with the change; some will tell you they will accept it rather than have no club, others would prefer to be back in the lower leagues with their pride and history intact, others still will say that they don’t care if (To use the colloquialism) ‘My team plays in pink and I never have done like, just so long as we have a team init!’ to which someone replied “By the look of the new strip come the first rainy home game you’ll have your wish”

It has to be said both the home and away kit look shoddy and poorly designed. The red and black home kit looks like a market stall rip-off of an old Manchester United kit while the blue one has a curious and unflattering stripe pattern on the midriff area. Then there is the new badge of which the only thing positive that can be said is it has united everyone! No one likes it – has been described as looking like; a beer mat, a dog’s dinner, the winning design in a Blue Peter competition and something the cleaner at CCS knocked it up in their tea break after accidentally sucking the original design up their vacuum.

It does beg the question with 100 million in the coffers why someone professional was not employed on the designing of the rebranded badge? Especially considering we are lead to believe the badge and the home strip are the crux of the marketing campaign in Asia. The badge aside attitudes seem to the outsider, to have become polarised into two camps.  On the one hand, what is happening is the demolition of a hundred years of proud history and tradition the selling of the soul of the club. On the other, the club’s very survival depends on a magical red tinted business plan that will result in untold wealth pouring in from new fans in the Far East and beyond.

However this over simplifies things and assumes that these are the only two views held, but there was and still is a middle ground in truth favoured by the majority one of many other possibilities, room for overlap, possibility of compromise, but certainly it sadly seems to be the view of the Malaysian investors that there is not, it is their way on the highway. This raises a number of issues in itself. It suggests that the future of the club hangs on the capriciousness of the potential future Asian supporters who will only support a club in a ‘lucky’ red shirt but not one in an ‘unlucky’ blue shirt, and that by adding a red dragon they will support in sufficient numbers to pay off the rest of the ‘Langston debt’, thus reinvigorate the club’s fortunes.

Written down like that it seems rather silly, a childlike idea, but no that is what is happening at Cardiff, whose owners view the club as a commodity which will have more brand value spray-painted to make it seem shiny and new and not appreciating it for the fine antique that it is one that catches the sunlight and gives pleasure, but that with a little polish would stand out proud and be admired from afar.

If the Malaysians believe the only way to achieve success lies in owning a red club, why didn’t they buy a red one? And on that point about the re-branding, if it is for the overseas market it shouldn’t matter which shirt is the home one, because from the far east and beyond all games are away games and if they are right and red is luckier all the more reason to play the home games in Bluebird Blue and the trickier away ties in dragon red.

The traditional Cardiff City Bluebird blue coloured home shirt and the Bluebird motif are unique! And surely uniqueness in branding makes better business sense, since when has being a pale imitation of another more successful brand, (in this case Manchester United) been good business practise? Pepsi  looks nothing like branded Cola and has never attempted to yet both stand fairly well matched in the worldwide market, Pepsi in its blue packaging selling twice as fast in the Asian market as the red and white packaged Coke!

Malaysian owners complain about the million pounds loss a month the club is enduring, this is difficult to comprehend for a number of reasons, the team has no outside sponsorship (curiously the owners chose to sponsor the team themselves) and they also recently paid off the Cardiff Blues from their contractual agreement to share Cardiff City Stadium with the Bluebirds, two lucrative forms of income Cardiff’s owners chose to dismiss?

Also the rebranding with the proposals to make the stadium more of a footballing museum (the reason given for the dispatching of the Cardiff Blues) is likely to alienate promoters from hosting major rock and pop concerts and for using it as home to auditions’ for the X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. It will also diminish the appeal of the Cardiff City Stadium availability to hire for filming and of the rooms available to hire for private parties and weddings for which it has a special license.

Much of the rebranding simply makes no sense and appears to be simply aimed at disaffecting and dividing fans. It’s a raw and emotive issue whichever side of the fence you sit on and even more uncomfortable if you attempt to perch on the fence and play devil’s advocate has I have done here, The bottom line is – There needs to be compromise or the club fan base is in danger of imploding!

Article title: Take It As Red – Cardiff City Fans Are Singing The Blues

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