No More Soulless Crest Updates? New FA Rules Protect Club Crests and Home Colours

Good news for fans of English teams as the FA have introduced new rules stating that clubs must consult with fans and have the approval of the majority before making any changes to the club crest or home shirt colours. This should help put a stop to the over-simplification and excessive modernisation of club crests, at least in England.

New FA Rules Protect Club Heritage

Over the past number of years, we have seen a growing trend of clubs updating their crest, opting for a minimalistic approach which results in a huge loss of character in a lot of cases. Changing the club's colours or removing certain elements from the badge is akin to partially erasing the club's history, distancing them from their roots and origins in favour of appealing to the international masses.

Cardiff City had worn blue since 1908. In 2013, owner Vincent Tan changed the team's home kit to red. The change was intended to help the club gain popularity in Asia. Red was also his favourite colour. After two and a half years of red shirts and dwindling numbers of fans coming to games, he switched the colours back to blue.

The most unpopular crest updates such as those of Juventus, Inter and Nantes resulted in the crest looking like a corporate logo rather than the crest of a football club that was formed over one hundred years ago. While it's probably fair to say that the majority of these drastically modernised changes have happened in leagues outside of England, there have been controversial cases in the Premier League and EFL too.

West Ham's current logo dropped the castle which had been present for over 50 years and was representative of a number of aspects of the club's history and place in the community. The word "London" was added instead, trying to attract a global fanbase rather than catering to their existing fans.

Leeds United redesigned their crest completely in 2018, coming up with a modified Mr Clean logo after six months of research and "consulting 10,000 people". It says a lot that the didn't use the word "fans" in their own launch. The backlash was swift and 77,000 supporters signed a petition to abandon the new badge, forcing the club do a u-turn and stick with the existing crest.

The FA's new rules apply to clubs in Premier League, EFL, National League [national division], Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship. The website of the FA states that:

Under the new rules, if a club wishes to make a material change to its club crest, or change its recognised home shirt colours, it must undertake a thorough and extensive consultation process with supporters.

If a majority of the fans object to such a change, it cannot go ahead. If a club is unable to provide proof that a proposed change was approved by the fans, the FA has the power to make the club revert to the previous crest or home shirt colours.

In the event a club is found to be in breach of the rules, The FA is able to take appropriate action, such as ordering a club to revert back to a previous crest or home shirt colour combination.

The relevant leagues and Football Supporters Association will be a part of the consultation process, with the overall aim being to put fans at the heart of the decision making process when it comes to club heritage. The relocation of clubs' home grounds could also soon have to abide by new laws as the FA continue their own fan consultation process on the matter.

Some people may argue that clubs need to update their crests to move with the times, and that is a valid point. There have been examples of successful, well-thought out changes that supporters can get behind, but there have also been far too many cases where the clubs have gotten it wrong.

The fans who have supported the club for years and have been with them a lot longer than new owners or partnering creative agencies should always have a say in these kinds of changes, as they have a very different association with the club than the men in the boardroom do. Ditching their heritage in order to create a new identity and attract new fans is sadly what many clubs have done, but these new rules should help to prevent it from happening again in the future.

What do you think of the FA's new rules on protecting club heritage? Would you like to see other leagues and organisations follow suit? Comment below.