Newcastle United's name, home colours and badge are NOT at risk - I explain the FACTS
Updated: Mar 28
Recent speculation from various sources, including some YouTube fan media channels, social media platforms and low quality media publications have suggested that Newcastle United's owners are looking to rebrand our club by proposing a change of home colours, club name and badge. This has caused an outcry from fans and Twitter bursting at the seams, with incredulous supporters scratching their heads and getting ready for a fight with the club.
This story has emerged from a document the club released a few days ago called 'Fan Engagement Review'- Season 2022/23 Season. In essence, the document sets out its commitment to strengthening communication, collaboration and engagement with fans. Near the bottom of this document it talks about the setting up of a Fan Advisory Board with the primary purpose to consult and engage with fans, creating structured strategic dialogue with regards to off-field matters. It aims to meet with this newly formed advisory board at the beginning of the 23/24 season to broadly discuss three main areas:-
The clubs 'Heritage Assets'
Its strategic vision and objectives
Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity of the club
In addition to this, the club highlight the area of 'Heritage Assets' for further discussion by stating - 'The club agrees that the following ‘Heritage Assets’ will be in scope for fan discussion':
First Team Home Shirt Club Colours
And this is where the confusion has been caused. To those prone to jumping to conclusions by not considering a wider context, it seems at first glance that the club are going to forward plans, or ideas to the new Fan Advisory Board its intentions to change the club colours, its name and the badge. Sacrilege!
However, when this document is seen in its wider context, it is clear that there are no such intentions. In this article, I will set out what is really happening. Allow me to elaborate...
Cardiff City FC - Back in 2012 the owner of Cardiff City FC Vincent Tan decided he wanted to rebrand the clubs home colours and badge. Traditionally playing in blue, he believed that the team playing red has a psychological advantage over opposition teams. Red is also the colour of the dragon on the Welsh flag. So, without any consultation with the fans, he changed the
traditional home colour from blue to red and the blue swallow on the club badge to a red dragon. Fans were furious. Vincent Tan had failed to respect the clubs heritage and traditions.
In 2015 Vincent Tan bowed to fan pressure and reinstalled the blue of the home strip and original blue swallow on the badge.
Stadium Relocations - There have also been several examples of stadium relocations, without the consent of the fans. This has caused fierce and divided opinion. Clubs involved include West Ham, Man City and Sunderland.
Financial Failings - In modern times, many clubs have found themselves in desperate financial difficulties, some of which have even become bankrupt. Derby County, Bury and Macclesfield are good examples of clubs in extremely difficult circumstances. Other clubs like Everton FC now face investigations by the FA for falling foul of Financial Fair Play (ffp) regulations. In essence, clubs are spending more than they earn, but also, rich owners are ploughing their own money into clubs through ambiguous channels.
Owners and Directors Tests - The FA have become under increasing pressure to tighten up their 'Owners and Directors' tests when reviewing the suitability of new potential club owners. This is due to the integrity of the individual or company concerned. Chelseas previous owner Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich is a good example. As a Russian oligarch, he faced expulsion from the club due to his ties with the Russian president Vladimir Putin.
It's with dismay that I must also include my own club Newcastle United. Our Saudi Owners are accused of some awful Human Rights abuses and my club is subject to intense criticism from other Premier League clubs and Human Rights groups. It's examples like these that are forcing the FA to tighten its ship and seen to be thorough, fair and transparent. That doesn't mean that I don't support my club passionately, but it's only right to explain these matters with impartiality as much as possible.
The Government response - Due to these recent difficulties affecting the English game, an independent review was commissioned by the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden in April 2021. This review called the Fan Led review of Football Governance was published in November the same year and was led by MP Tracey Crouch.
The review is a comprehensive examination of the English football system with the aim of exploring ways of improving the governance, ownership and financial sustainability of clubs in the football pyramid, building on the strengths and benefits that our great game already provides the nation.
Following extensive engagement with fans and stakeholders across the whole football community, on which the foundations of this review have been based, this is the final report and recommendations of the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance.
The report recommended the following to the Culture Secretary for implementation by the FA:-
Fans to be at the heart of their clubs and have a say in club matters
A Protection of 'Heritage Assets' like home colours, club names and badges
Improved Owners and Directors Tests
Growing Womens Football
Overseeing clubs financial systems
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
The FA Response - In response to these findings, the FA rewrote its regulations and published a new set of laws and guidelines. In August last year it implemented these new rules that English clubs, including the Women's Premier League and Championship. They are be summarised here.
It is now incumbent on English clubs to adopt these practices to ensure their clubs financial sustainability, cultural heritage and its drive towards Equality, Inclusion and Diversity. The FA have made it clear that fans are to be at the heart of what happens at their clubs and that Heritage Assets are protected entities in their own right. Cubs will need to tread very carefully if they wish to tinker with a clubs historical heritage.
Newcastle United's Response - In response to the Fan Lad Governance Review, its findings and the subsequent regulations set out by the FA, Newcastle has now published its own response and it is called the 'Fan Engagement Review' as mentioned at the beginning of this article. And so we have now come full circle.
What do the club mean by discussing the clubs heritage Assets like Home Colours, name and Badge?
If you have read this far, I'm hoping that what I'm going to explain now is something that you have already realised.
All clubs that fall under the FA's new regulations will now be arranging similar meetings with their fans and producing similar 'Fan Engagement' documents.
For example, Aston Villa have a similar announcement on their website. This is what it says:-
The club has identified the following as Heritage Assets that we regard in scope for fan consultation, and when consulting, will ensure compliance with all elements of the FA Rules of Association relating to Heritage Assets:
Name - Aston Villa Football Club
It should now be clear to anyone that when the heritage Assets of Newcastle United are discussed at the beginning of next season with the Fan Advisory Board, they are NOT discussing proposals to change the clubs name, home colours, or badge. The club will merely use the meeting as an opportunity to set out its terms of reference as an agreement with the fans as to what the club views as their Heritage Assets. This agreement will then ensure its compliance with all the elements of the FA rules. It's as simple as that.
In summary, if the club want to make any changes to the clubs heritage and this includes a stadium relocation, it must be done in consultation with the fans and with their majority approval through season ticket and home attendance polls. This includes any redesign of the club badge.
As a personal opinion, the club may gauge fan opinions on the badge and whether there would be any majority enthusiasm to update, or freshen it up.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.