Leeds has got to be one of the best, if not the best places in the UK. Fact. Firstly, the vibe is somewhere between a small city and a large town; it’s small enough for everyone to know each other but large enough to have all the amenities of a big city. Secondly, it’s one of the best party cities in the UK and it has a rich cultural, musical and sporting history. Plus, we have like a million universities that flood the streets with an army of colourful and lively and artistic students every year adding to the diverse feel.
People are damn proud to be part of this special place, you can appreciate that by speaking to any Lioner – especially on a match day. This became particularly evident last month which was a tricky time for the Leeds United marketing department. They unveiled their much-anticipated new badge which they claimed “signalled the dawn of a new era in the club’s proud history”. The design, which was going to mark the club’s centenary next year, was going to be used from the start of next season.
The design depicted the ‘Leeds Salute’ which has become a symbol of pride and passion for Leeds fans in Yorkshire and beyond. It did seem fairly appropriate; after all, the salute is displayed extensively on match days when – with right hand on heart – fans belt out the club’s anthem ‘Marching on Together’.
But it didn’t really go down like that because the Leeds fans, well, they just hated everything about it! And they weren’t taking it lying down: Hundreds of bemused Lioners took to social media to mock the new design describing it as “awful”, “shocking”, “horrendous” and “making a mockery of the club’s history”.
Chris, a Facebook user from Leeds and avid United fan, said: “The new Leeds badge is awful and we know it.” This sentiment was echoed by Adam, also a Lioner on Facebook, who believes that the new crest is “the worst badge in the history of football”.
Leeds fanzine, The Square Ball, tweeted: “The club needs to modernise. We get it. But as a badge for the centenary, there’s nothing timeless or classy about it. No nobility. A big glossy exercise in branding done by a consultant in Shoreditch.” This all resulted in an online petition being started to try and get the decision reversed – it has over 77,000 signatures at the time of writing.
In the face of overwhelming criticism and ridicule (some fans created their own crests and posted them online in a bid to prove that they could do better), Leeds United did the only thing that they could do: scrap the crest. They abandoned the whole thing less than seven hours after publicising it.
This whole fiasco says a lot about United and how they value their fans: Radrizzani, the owner and chairman of the club, said: “We’ve shown we are here for the fans, here to listen to them. We could not ignore the feedback so we took back the project and are discussing with the fans the options. We will come back with something that everybody will like.”
This whole situation reinforced the idea that the people of Leeds are unquestionably proud of their city, their team and their community. So much so that, rather than simply accepting that they didn’t like the new crest and moving on, they were willing to stage a vicious backlash against the prospective branding. Now that’s dedication to your city.