Why Cardiff City’s new colours are more than just a re-branding exercise
My fianceé is under strict instructions never to buy me a red toothbrush. This is no specific dental superstition, but a general mantra throughout life.
Red = Manchester United = Scum*
So, in a childish act of personal tribute , my toothbrush may be green, purple, orange, turquoise or cerise pink. Ideally it should be either white, blue or yellow (or all three!).
But never red. Never.
So, if Leeds United were taken over by Malaysian owners who promptly swept aside our all white strip - initiated in the 60s by Don Revie to inspire the team to emulate the prowess of Real Madrid** – and replaced it with a red jersey and a new logo maintaining only a snippet of our famous triumvirate of yellow, white and blue, I’d be more than a little put out.
Well that’s what Cardiff City have done, jettisoning their bluer-than-blue home strip for a vibrant red number complete with lucky red dragon emblem (Welsh or Malaysian tbc).
Fan reaction is mixed. Just yesterday, less than a month after the changes were announced, 55% of the Cardiff City Supporters Trust declared that they did not support the change, with many of the 45% in favour only acquiescing to the changes because of the £100 million the new owners have promised in return.
Colour speaks. Semantically, subtle shades and vibrant hues tell us as much as words can, and subliminally, and often much quicker. For football fans colour immediately tells you about teams, and teams immediately invoke myriad meanings and feelings: love, hatred, fear, apathy, remorse, joy, sympathy. The red shirt, that kick. Yellow away jerseys and those European goals. That shade of green invoking a Proustian memory of the gut wrenching burger at Plymouth Argyll on a rainy Tuesday night.
When colour forms something so intrinsic to your team that it forms part of your nickname, the discussion to re-brand isn’t as simple as the BBC going monochrome, the Conservatives adopting a green tree or McDonald’s ditching its child friendly primary colours for muted ‘adult’ tones.***
This is personal. Blue shirts become red, twenty-six thousand blue seats need replacing at the ground, countless tattoos stare back at their host redundant, red-faced.
Time will tell for Cardiff City. Only the fans can decide if the trade off between financial investment and the fickle associations of club colours is worth it.
For now, the Bluebirds have been all but gobbled up by Red Dragons, and a little piece of tradition is relegated to away shirt only.
Somehow I doubt there’ll be a surge of red toothbrush sales in Cardiff.