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There was once a time when a football club’s identity meant something. If you told a Cardiff fan 20 years ago that his club would be soon playing in Red and bear very little resemblance to the iconic bluebird, he’d stage a dirty protest before he let it happen.
This just shows how football has changed, Cardiff’s objection to their recent re-branding was forgotten in a heartbeat when the club won the Championship and so truly heralds the age of the football franchise.
Hull City’s owner Assem Allam has announced his intention to rename the club “Hull Tigers”, branding “City” as “an irrelevant, common name” and claiming “Tigers” will allow them to be “special”. Like Cardiff’s change to red in order to improve standing in Asia, Allam feels that Hull tigers will have more pull on a global scale and make the club marketable worldwide in the future.
So how far will this go? Could we soon be seeing the Liverpool Red Sox up against the Arsenal Bombers, competing not for trophies, but fourth place and a one billion pound place in the Champions League? It sounds ridiculous and of course it is, but then again Newcastle now play their home games in the ludicrously named Sports Direct Arena.
But it gets worse.
Manchester United’s signings of Kagawa and Park in recent seasons were driven not by on-field merits but Asian shirt-sales. Arsenal players celebrated wildly at their fourth place finish despite not winning a trophy for 8 years. Games are organized through TV scheduling and the convenience of the TV channels. Football is big business.
As the prawn sandwiches are consumed and the millions are spent, it is the everyday fan that suffers. My dad often tells stories of his childhood memories in the Kop, watching his beloved Liverpool for less than a pound a ticket and singing in unison with 60,000 fellow Scousers. Football used to be about the community and fans, not fifty pound tickets.
If Liverpool were to ever forget Anfield, forget the liver bird and forget Shankley then my club would be dead, without our identity then we are nothing. More clubs and more supporters should heed this motto.
Call me old fashioned, but Cardiff play in blue, Hull are city and Newcastle play at St James’ Park; No amount of shameless marketing will ever take that away.