With the football season coming to an end, I was reflecting on Arsenal’s recent boardroom shenanigans. Stan Kroenke, the American businessman, is now the new majority shareholder and is already talking about possibly higher ticket prices for next season.
The Arsenal club crest on the first football shirt my dad bought me is identical to the one on the gates of the Clock End. It enjoys a level of detail and heraldry that seems to sum up why my granddad always referred to it as ‘The Arsenal’ and talked about the club as an establishment. A club with a rich history – the first to use floodlights, shirt numbers and win three titles in a row.
The crest had been designed in 1949 and featured ‘Arsenal’ in a gothic typeface above the westward facing cannon and the Borough of Islington’s coat of arms and ermine. It was full of meaning.
In 2002 the club left their Highbury ground, built in 1913, with its 1930s art deco stands and moved to the ultra modern Emirates Stadium in Holloway. With it came a completely redesigned and ‘modernised’ crest. Gone was the Gothic typeface, the Islington coat of arms and ermine and the legend ‘Victoria Concordia Crescit’ (Victory Comes From Harmony). This drastic change infuriated the majority of fans who felt it was a betrayal of their heritage and a “sell out” to commercialism.
Perhaps I wouldn’t care about the past if the new crest didn’t look like something from a fast food chain, totally undistinguished, boring and saying nothing about the club. Every time I see the Arsenal crest it screams to me of £6 Meal Deals, cheap plastic merchandise, overpaid footballers and teams being referred to as ‘businesses’ and not football clubs.
The underlying reason that forced the change was that Arsenal had been unable to copyright the original and weren’t able to take full commercial advantage of merchandising rights. However, I don’t want my club’s badge to remind me of money making and the fact I’m being ripped off for every game I can afford to see. Surely there was a way of trademarking a new crest without pressing the Pepsi button in Photoshop!