So-called 'People's Club' risk alienating supporters with new badge

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty ImagesEverton are facing a rebellion from their fans over the new crest

Pre-season often generates excitement among supporters, but the news released on Saturday covered both ends of the spectrum. A pre-season tournament including Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Real Madrid slipped under the radar; the radar swamped amid outrage over the design of the new badge.

Much to the annoyance of the club, the current design leaked into the public domain months ago; the redesign process began as early as autumn 2012. Although inconvenient, this slip gave the opportunity to question the fan-base and gauge opinion; something the club failed to do, contrary to their release day protestations.

Since club secretary Theo Kelly created the badge in 1938, each adaptation has consisted of the tower wrapped by the once present fence line. Now, in an age when manufacturing concerns take precedent over history and continuity, the fence line has disappeared.

The idea of marketing over tradition merely gathers pace when reading minutes from the recent meeting between Everton and their Shareholders’ Association. Published on Saturday, the message conveyed by the club is one of superficiality above heritage and certain segments do little to quell the theory, such as "the need to make the crest easier to replicate" or "more readily recognisable across the media, notably on TV".

First created in 1938, the full crest has appeared on club shirts since 1978. Nonetheless, in spite of the continual pressures of modernisation, each update included two or more of the tower, the wreaths and Nil Satis Nisi Optimum - the club motto. The new creation is the first in Everton history with just one of those defining characteristics (the tower).

Revisiting the minutes of the aforementioned meeting, one particular sentence stands out: “Mr Tyrrell said that the badge is consistent and respectful of the club heritage both in size and imagery”.

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Nevertheless, a picture can paint a thousand words and does so here. The above image is a still from the promotional video accompanying the new badge, the image details the elements of the previous badge, what they represent and the plans for them.

Alarmingly, the elements removed from the new design - the wreaths and the motto - carry arguably the greatest relevance. It may worry supporters to see aspects representing 'heritage', 'history 'and 'tradition' simply consigned to the marketing scrapheap. Indicative of the current hierarchy, the changes portray a lack of ambition and a club out of touch with their fan base.

The inclusion of ‘Everton’ and ‘1878’ ahead of the motto and wreaths is somewhat puzzling. After all, at the risk of stating the obvious, Evertonians know their history and they are well aware of the founding year and the club name. These well-travelled supporters cherish their history and the removal of the more relevant emblems has offended many.

After the initial announcement, considerable weight fell behind mentioning contributors to the decision making process; the fan forum features prominently on the official website. However, Everton made the mistake of accepting the views of the forum as those of the collective.

It is somewhat disconcerting to see the varying descriptions among the badge literature, the club seemingly unaware of the actual role of the forum. On the club website, the forum alternate between “a representative group of Evertonians”, “representing a wide spectrum of Evertonians” and “representative of the entire fan-base”.

Furthermore, the official site states, “the new design has been created following an extensive consultation process with fans, supporters' groups and branding experts”. The claim about extensive consultation is, quite frankly, an affront on supporters, and a glance at the poll on Everton fan site Toffeeweb suggests minimal supporter consultation.

More than 10,000 supporters voted and 91% disliked the new design (64% hated it, 27% did not like it, 7% liked it and 2% loved it). A tweet by the Shareholders’ Association simply reaffirmed the lack of genuine supporter consultation: “In response to further queries, the Shareholders' Association was not consulted at all about the new club crest”.

As things stand, Everton are making a mockery of the phrase coined by David Moyes on his arrival in March 2002. Moyes proclaimed the Toffees as the 'People’s Club' and the phrase stuck, with the club often using it for marketing purposes; this was evident when the badge launched on Saturday.

Nigel Payne, the man who led the project’s internal design team, said, “Everton is a unique community-based club – The People’s Club - which is why we wanted to keep the process in-house and within the Everton family”. Given the reaction to the badge, it appears the club and the supporters are miles apart in their definitions of 'the Everton family’.

As the club motto outlines, nothing but the best is good enough, and supporters are informing the club of that fact via the various social media channels. Often accused of poor communication with fans, this latest episode threatens to drive a permanent wedge between the two. Presently, Everton supporters are the only people investing in this sleeping giant; alienating them is not wise.

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