Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Backlash over shorts colour, so why not the shirts?

Cardiff City revealed their new Premier League strip last week to widespread furore on the internet and in local press.

Shocked supporters voiced their disapproval at the club’s attempts to make themselves “stand out” among the competition next term – a two-tone red number.

Such was the outrage that the club quickly backtracked and gave supporters the chance to vote on the shorts colour for this season. The choices were the original darker red, the same shade of red as the shirt, black or white.

Quickly, mock ups appeared on internet forums giving supporters a fifth choice – the traditional blue shirt and white shorts worn by the club before last year’s controversial rebrand by Malaysian owner Vincent Tan.

Even Cardiff City left back Andrew Taylor, who captained the side on occasion last term, mocked lightly the choice of colour scheme on his Twitter account.

For the record, black won through, which of course matches the kit worn during this season’s title-winning Championship campaign that put the club back in to English football’s top flight for the first time in 51 years.

This raised one question - if so much fuss could be made to force the club in to a change of mind over this, why did a similar action not occur last summer?

Firstly, of course, people will point to the fact that the colour of a pair of shorts is not the same as changing a club’s image, dispensing of their badge and, according to many, destroying their history.

This is true. It is not. But this time around the vote offered showed a willingness by the club to listen to supporters, which is what did not occur on any level 12 months ago.

There were supporters who turned their back on the club last summer, saying it was no longer the one they had fallen in love with. An interview with Tan earlier this year enraged these further by describing ‘supporters’ as ‘customers’, and claiming that up to 25 per cent could be lost as long as they had the majority behind them.

Cardiff continued to attract large crowds as they marched towards promotion, showing that either Tan was correct, or some of those dissenters had returned. The feet will always march to see a successful team, and it would have been interesting to see what the reaction would have been if Cardiff sat 12th and without a win in six matches.

The evidence points, then, to the fact a large number of fans accepted what happened, either reluctantly or with open arms, as the club soared to the top of the league.

Most Cardiff supporters are thankful to Tan and the board for bankrolling the club through financially difficult times and laying the foundations for Premier League promotion. So it seems strange they would voice their disapproval more vociferously over a faux-pas relating to the colour of the shorts rather than a complete overhaul of the club’s image.

Was it a case of one step too far? Too much tinkering? Or is it a sign that those who have at varying volumes been calling for a return to blue over the past year are starting to be noticed more?

Another issue of note is how strong social media has become in broadcasting a timely reaction to an announcement, either positive or negative, and how this backs up Joanna Lumley's recent claims in a TV interview that such tools have turned us in to a world of reactionary thinkers rather than proactive ones.

Whatever the thinking behind the row, the club have started the season off on the wrong foot by bringing up another opportunity for rivals to sneer and point derogatory fingers. Besides, some pessimists may ask what does it matter about the colour of the shorts when we are 5-0 down every weekend?

Boss Malky Mackay would shoot those thoughts down straight away of course as he goes about preparing for life at the top table. But it would be interesting to know what the playing and coaching staff thought of such bickering before their big season, if they had any thoughts at all of course.

It seems only Cardiff City could row so openly with each other going in to their biggest season of the past half a century.

Those who have vociferously been calling for a return to blue will be heartened by the latest row as a sign they may well get their wish if they push harder and louder.

But the majority that have stuck with them this far will be praying that stability isn’t lost as the Premiership season kicks off, and Cardiff can give a good account of themselves whatever colour they emerge from the tunnel wearing on day one.


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