We will all have seen mention of Leeds United recently. The team was all over the national news due to the fact the club unveiled a new team badge. So bloody what, many will wonder.
Well, it didn’t go down well with fans. At all.
According to Leeds United, it took six months of research, and a consultation process involving 10,000 people (who were they?), and it appeared in its naked glory on Leeds United social media channels on a Wednesday lunchtime.
When it’s someone else’s team, it’s schadenfreude all round, and there was indeed much mirth and mickey-taking around the fan furore on the social channels. And boy was there a furore. Most were incensed by the crest, some by the fact they weren’t allowed a preview – and others by the method of unveiling.
Here is the new badge, or by now, the old badge; or maybe the badge that was never actually a badge, badge.
6 months of research
10,000 people consulted
Ready for the next 100 years
— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 24, 2018
The hashtag #badgegate soon appeared on Twitter and gave us some truly wonderful moments that encapsulated the problem, as well as some interesting theories.
Some thought they’d seen this crest somewhere before, perhaps when they’d had a touch of heartburn or when playing Playstation.
It was clearly crucial business for some, including local Leeds MP, Richard Burgon who took the time to write a long letter to the club’s owners asking them to reconsider. Richard even told the Italian owner who scored for Leeds in the first ever game he attended as a boy, bless him. To be fair, the MP is representing many Leeds fans in his constituency but it came as no surprise when the fact he was using his time for such matters was derided in some quarters with @kat_lawrenson not beating about the bush,
A&E wait times are a joke but it’s ok everyone the Leeds MP is writing (badly) to a football club about their new crest. Sort yourself out.
— Kat Lawrenson (@kat_lawrenson) January 24, 2018
The backlash then spurned plenty of attempts at badge crests from fans themselves, with mixed results. @tokyomatt comment summed it up nicely,
“Worst thing about #badgegate is everyone is now a bloody graphic designer / prison tattooist / keeper of the #LUFC look-book. Put the MSPaint down for a minute FFS.”
@robprice27 said, “Took me 2 minutes to knock this up!”
— Rob Price (@robprice27) January 24, 2018
You don’t say, Rob.
Despite being a cynical old PR, I didn’t at first suspect any ulterior motive. Not for the first hour anyway. Within too long though, the suspicious had started their posts,
“Conspiracy theory: that badge was NEVER going to be the emblem. They released something shit so everyone else would design something a lot better for free… board look reasonable.. Fans happy with the final thing.. free publicity.. #lufc #badgegate”
“Now the dust has settled, call me a cynic but I truly believe #badgegate was purely a disruptive marketing ploy to get the #LUFC tag trending and see how powerful it is. Not a fan of this tactic, us fans have been deceived enough” from @andywood_86
Perhaps the best was from @HeikoMo,
“All this #lufc #badgegate reminds me of a time my gaffer presented an idea to us which was so batshit crazy that it forced us to come up with a better alternative, thus relieving him of both workload and responsibility. Clever move”.
Many, many others thought it was a big smokescreen to distract the fans away from the lack of player signings.
“Now the fans have been distracted with #badgegate the real issue of signing players has been swept under carpet #LUFC” from @NickLUFCWilson being a typical response.
I can’t help wondering if the conspiracy theorists were right. Leeds United owner, Andrea Radrizzani is no fool after all.
📰 | Following on from last week’s commitment to extend consultation with our supporters on the proposed crest change, we are pleased to announce further details
— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 29, 2018
So what about this huge consultancy undertaking we may ask? Ten thousand is a ridiculously large number of people to consult with, so how come it went so badly wrong?
Leeds band The Transmission questioned the consulting aspect saying,
“I think Kinnear might need to find a new consultation group. They obviously don’t speak for the vast majority of fans. When @LUFC fans agree on something you know you’ve done something wrong. Tip for next time, let some people see the badge before you embarrass us. #badgegate”
I think this is the key. Word has it that the chosen 10,000 were asked what kind of things like they liked or disliked; but weren’t offered any examples or final options. Fans on the Leeds United forums didn’t seem to know who any of the 10,000 were; in fact, some suggested they were all from Manchester.
But ten thousand is just a fraction of the 80,000 that have signed the petition against implementing the new badge – indeed, it reached 10,000 within the first hour.
It was an interesting week to watch. Clearly there a few lessons to learn. If Proctor & Gamble had launched a new logo, there wouldn’t be a ripple (unless it was so bad that it became funny). But whereas no one has an emotional connection to a consumer goods corporation, they very clearly do have for a football club.
Gavin Megaw, a director at Hanover and formerly a Communications Director for the English Football League, said the whole affair had been badly handled.
“Change programmes within football are notoriously difficult. Fans are a club’s most important stakeholders, but are also voracious opponents to change. Leeds United knew this, and should have ensured they had a robust research and consultation process,” he said, before adding: “They clearly didn’t; their rapid turnaround demonstrated that they were not themselves convinced by their own arguments.”
It’s not too late though. The club did the right thing in the end and has agreed to a change, which shows that it listens to the fans. Perhaps it had no choice with such a backlash, but it has since said,
“We conducted thorough research into the desire for a change to the crest to symbolise a new era for the club. However, we also appreciate the need to extend the consultation with supporters and we are committed to working with you to create an identity we can all be proud of. We will release further information on how supporters can get involved in the process next week”
Really looking forward to hearing just how the supporters can get truly involved this time.
This post started with the words “We will all have seen mention of Leeds United recently” and this is certainly true. Just not in the way that any true fans would have wanted.