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Phil Jones on a shift to blue

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11 Jun 2013 00:18:00

Phil Jones on a shift to blue

On the eve of the Bluebirds Unite meeting in Cardiff, boycotting City fan Phil Jones gives his thoughts on the red / blue debate.

A swing in the number of people protesting for a return to blue will come to a head on Tuedsday when Bluebirds Unite hold a public meeting at The Corporation in Canton.

Details on the poster shown on the right.

City fans Phil Jones has not been to a game since the change a year ago.

In a blog for the Huffington Post phil writes:

It is now just over a year since Cardiff City, at the behest of Malaysian controlling shareholder Vincent Tan and amidst a storm of controversy, underwent a significant rebrand. 

Out went the famous blue shirt and predominant bluebird badge, in came a red top with a cheesily amateurish Clip Art red dragon as the centrepiece of the new emblem (locally and unaffectionately known as the 'beermat badge'). Tan's rationale was that it would make the club more marketable in the Far East...

There was an understandable furore, the talk was of mass boycotts and large scale disobedience. Cardiff fans were not going to take this.

Or were they?

Due to a succession of owners who employed, to put it politely, a slightly 'cavalier' attitude towards fiscal management,the club was encumbered with debt levels that would bring the proverbial banana republic to its knees.

Vincent Tan's rebrand also came with a considerable sweetener, a reported £100m investment in players and club infrastructure. There were additional noises from the wealthy Malaysian that the club's long term debt burden would be eased too. All of this investment was apparently dependent on Cardiff City fans accepting the loss of a significant part of its identity. 'Red or dead' became an oft-used expression last summer.

Very quickly, the mood amongst the majority of bluebirds supporters became one of reluctant acceptance. There were abortive attempts at resistance but those of us who were willing to fight it were swiftly marginalised and accused of threatening the club's very existence.

The bad feeling and downright animosity between sections of the support simmered away in the background as, ironically, the football club enjoyed one of its best ever seasons on the pitch.

By February, with Cardiff City runaway leaders at the top of the Championship, Tan deemed that having a team decked out in red was not enough - he wanted to see the fans actively embrace the change. Cue what has become known locally as 'scarfgate.'

To celebrate Tan's birthday, it was announced that as a 'gift,' all of those attending the Brighton home match would receive a 'free' red scarf. Social networking sites went into meltdown (don't they always?) and it's fair to say that the free scarf was viewed with a large degree of cynicism.

However, away from cyberspace, the reality proved very different. The Cardiff City stadium was pretty much 'a sea of red.' For the casual observer, they would probably have concluded that it was now game, set and match to Tan. Yet, bizarrely, 'scarfgate' appeared to have quite the opposite effect. It proved to be a tipping point for a number of fans that had reluctantly accepted the rebrand.

Indeed, after 'Red Tuesday' versus Brighton very few of the red scarves made another appearance. It appears that South Walians just like free 'stuff,' regardless of colour or connations. Over the closing months of the season blue pride was very much in vogue. Lots more blue gear at games, together with defiant pro-blue chants.

Promotion was secured and the obligatory open top (red) bus tour of the city was greeted by an overwhelmingly blue fanscape as the supporters once again demonstrated their colour preference.

Fast forward to the end of May and a time when football fans traditionally, eagerly await the launch of their new home kit. It's fair to say anticipation was a little subdued in these parts due to the inevitability of the home colour offering being red. However, this was no ordinary kit launch.

City fans looked on in disbelief as the new kit committed the cardinal sin of a) looking like something from the 'everything a fiver' section of Sports Direct and b) it was guilty of the ultimate fashion faux pas of having differing shades of red for the shirt compared to the shorts.

Incredibly, the storm created was almost on a par with the initial reaction to the switch from blue to red, a year earlier. The club almost immediately decided to create the perception of listening to its supporters and organised an online vote for fans to choose their preferred shorts colour for the coming season. Unsurprisingly, none of the choices offered by the club were blue! The winning colour, incidentally, was black.The cynics amongst us would possibly suggest that the whole exercise was deliberately manipulated so that the club, on their high profile return to the top flight, for the first time in 51 years, could point out that the fans chose the kit.

Whatever the intention, it appears to have backfired. A sizeable number of supporters that had previously accepted the rebrand have been vocal in recent days that the straw has finally broken the camel's back and it's time to fight back.

Will meaningful disobedience and protest finally rear it's head in Cardiff? Well, that's rather hard to tell but the signs are encouraging. Over the past couple of days a petition calling for the restoration of our traditional identity has very quickly accumulated several thousand signatures and a movement called 'Bluebirds Unite' has called an open meeting to discuss how best to see our home colours reinstated.

The big difference between this year and last, is the Premier League gravy train means that City fans are no longer beholden to Vincent Tan in the way in which they were twelve months ago. Rebellion is in the air. Whether prestige high profile signings will pacify the masses remains to be seen but one thing is for sure - events off the field may prove every bit as engaging as matters on it during the coming season.

Follow Phil Jones on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PhilJones33

Source: Cardiff City Online


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