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Leeds United: A club crest is more than an image; it’s an identity

Rob Meech

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Leeds United

The outrage sparked by Leeds United’s new badge would no doubt have shocked the club’s hierarchy. They had spent more than six months in the design process, with the intention of creating a modern crest that also reflected their proud history. They failed spectacularly. Such was the scale of the criticism that within two hours of the logo being revealed, nearly 16,000 people had signed an online petition to demand it be scrapped.

It features a footballer in a white shirt with his arm across his chest, depicting the ‘Leeds Salute’, above the words ‘Celebrating fans at the heart of our community’. By any reasonable judgement, it is underwhelming and has been universally ridiculed, likened by some to crests found in computer games. Other comments are simply unprintable.

The biggest issue is it is such a departure from the current incarnation containing a white rose – emblematic of the county of Yorkshire – the club’s initials and the colours yellow and blue, which are synonymous with Leeds United. In comparison, the new version is positively futuristic and devoid of any tradition. It’s revolution, not evolution.

Leeds said they had consulted 10,000 people before designing the new badge, which was unveiled to commemorate their centenary year in 2019. In a statement, they said it “represents the passion and unique identity that runs through the club.” The reaction showed how far they had missed the mark. Many were left wondering which 10,000 people had been spoken to, since you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who would describe it as a success.

What has become abundantly clear in this episode is exactly how important to supporters the badge is. It is not just an image on a shirt; it is a symbolic representation of the club’s identity. It is not only world-renowned outfits like Manchester United and Liverpool who can be recognised simply by their crest, but those much further down the pyramid as well.

Leeds fans are among the most passionate in English football. Even after their fall from grace and relegation to League One a decade ago, which came as a consequence of financial mismanagement, Elland Road was often packed to the rafters. Leeds are a sleeping giant; a Premier League club in all but status. Could this be the year they finally return to the top-flight after a 14-year absence? They would certainly be a welcome addition.

Football fans are a stubborn bunch and resistant to change. Five years ago, Everton were forced to backtrack after a new badge they had proposed was similarly panned. Cardiff owner Vincent Tan was also condemned for changing the club’s home shirt from blue to red, in an attempt to make the club more marketable in Asia. After more than two years and much to supporters’ relief, Tan finally bowed to the pressure and the club reverted to blue.

For Leeds’ long-suffering fans, who have endured a fractious relationship with the powers-that-be in the recent past, this new crest was seen as another insult. To the club’s credit, they have already admitted they will rethink the new design, in light of the backlash. They’d be foolish not to. Even in this commercial age, supporters remain the lifeblood of a football club. As Leeds’ have shown over the past couple of days, their collective voice can still have an impact.

Rob is a freelance writer, specialising in football, who previously worked as a sports journalist at the Dorset Echo. A long-standing AFC Bournemouth supporter, Rob can often be found on the terraces at the Vitality Stadium. Follow him on Twitter - @RobMeech

Birmingham City

Leeds must take advantage of Garry Monk’s misstep and snap up David Stockdale

The experienced shot-stopper would be a useful addition at Elland Road.

Max Cohen

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David Stockdale
Photo: Getty Images

Rarely is a goalkeeper who was previously named in the Championship Team of the Year told he is surplus to requirements, but this fate appears to have befallen Birmingham City’s David Stockdale.

Leeds United must act quickly and sign Stockdale from Birmingham, reuniting the former Premier League goalie with his favourite club.

Stockdale starred for Brighton and Hove Albion in the 2016/17 Championship campaign, steering the Seagulls to automatic promotion while being named in the PFA Team of the Year.

When the Englishman signed for Birmingham the following summer, many lauded the move as one of the coups of the transfer window.

Yet, Stockdale endured a turbulent year at St Andrew’s as the club went through three managers and narrowly avoided relegation.

Nonetheless, it came as a surprise when the Birmingham Mail reported that manager Garry Monk would allow the 32-year-old keeper to leave this summer.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Stockdale enjoyed a strong end to the season as the Blues won five out of their last nine to stay up, keeping three clean sheets in the process.

Given his strong Championship pedigree and impressive recent form, it seems odd that Monk would allow Stockdale to depart this summer.

However, Birmingham’s loss could turn into Leeds’ gain, as the Yorkshire club would do well to acquire the Leeds-born shot-stopper.

The goalkeeper grew up in the city and is a Leeds supporter, and even had a trial with the club when he was 12.

Stockdale failed the trial back then but has a superb chance to move to Elland Road and deputise for his beloved childhood club.

The goalkeeper has been a problem position all year for Leeds.

According to Phil Hay of the Yorkshire Evening Post, summer signing Felix Wiedwald has “struggled to adapt” to the Championship, while Bailey Peacock-Farrell is relatively inexperienced at only 21 years of age.

The signing of David Stockdale would benefit all parties involved, reuniting the goalkeeper with his boyhood club and solving the positional dilemma at Elland Road.

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Turfed out by Leeds, Souleymane Doukara is relegation hero in Turkey

The forward was released by Leeds United last August.

Mathew Coull

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Leeds United fans were likely left very surprised when they heard who had been signed to replace the legendary Samuel Eto’o at Antalyaspor in February. The Turkish side were in the relegation zone at the time and decided to cut down on wages and big-name players. The Cameroonian headed to rivals Konyaspor, whilst Antalyaspor pillaged fellow relegation battlers Osmanlispor. The player they stole away? None other than former Leeds United forward Souleymane Doukara.

Of course, Leeds fans were right to find the idea of Doukara replacing Eto’o somewhat unbelievable. Doukara had an indifferent spell at Leeds after joining from Catania in 2014.

(Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)

He was, however, one of the few Massimo Cellino led signings who managed to stick around and put in some good cameo performances, particularly under the management of Garry Monk. He will always be remembered for an incredible volley v Nottingham Forest that nearly ripped a hole in the back of the net and won the 2016-17 goal of the season.

Indeed, he always seemed to be a player up to the challenge of trying to prove those around him wrong. Despite his good moments, he was released last August after falling out of favour with new boss Thomas Christiansen.

(Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

After impressing in his first six months in Turkey, Antalyaspor decided he was the man to save them from relegation. They were right.

Doukara has been fantastic for the club since joining in the winter. The 26-year-old has scored six goals in 14 games for the club. Earlier this month, he raced away from Genclerbirligi defender, and Paul’s older brother, Florentin Pogba to slot home a 1-0 winner against their relegation rivals and secure Antalyaspor’s place in the Turkish Super Lig for next season.

Leeds fans know that when Doukara was in the mood, he had all the tools to be a real handful in the Championship. Unfortunately, those days were often few and far between. But this year so far has been excellent for the attacker who, based on recent evidence, could have played a major role at Elland Road this season.

Replace Eto’o he certainly did and he will now forever be a hero in Antalya. Leeds might regret deciding to cut their losses on the versatile French-Senegalese attacker.

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Jaap Stam would be a pointless appointment at Leeds United

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Photo: Getty Images.

Paul Heckingbottom’s start to life at Leeds United has been far from ideal, winning just four of 16 games in his opening few months in command. Yet there is already speculation that Leeds could appoint a 13th manager in just six years, with Jaap Stam the latest man linked.

The news comes from Sports Witness, quoting De Telegraaf, as suggesting that Leeds are interested in appointing the former Manchester United central defender who is also on the radar of Swansea City.

Such a move would be nonsensical for a club used to turmoil and crying out for stability. It’s clear that Heckingbottom’s early form has not been up to the standards that may have been expected when he was appointed, but the 2017/18 season was all but written off when Thomas Christiansen was dismissed in February.

Andrea Radrizzani and co. knew that in Heckingbottom they were hiring a coach who lacked experience, with no past in having handled the pressure of such a role at a club the size of Leeds. They went ahead with Heckingbottom because he knows the club, knows what it can mean to fans and has the potential to bring about a long-term plan at Elland Road.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Yet only three months later, rumours of a replacement are on the cards.

Stam would be the kind of man that would fit the Leeds agenda, a high profile name with no clear affinity to Leeds’ set-up, but his record does leave question marks.

His three at the back system deployed with Reading brought about success in 2016/17, taking the Royals to the play-offs with a reputation for their attractive style of play which caught the eye as they came close to returning to the top flight with Stam seemingly the inspiration.

Then came the team’s inexplicable collapse in 2017/18, crashing down to the wrong end of the table and leading to his inevitable sacking in March as he seemed to be too stubborn to change his ways as his side edged closer and closer to relegation.

Stam may implement a recognised style of play at Leeds, one which would be welcomed by many fans, but it would take time to get results. Time and patience is something that managers at Leeds do not get, as would be shown if he was to be hired with Heckingbottom abandoned after only three months in charge.

If Radrizzani wants to see Leeds finally awaken from their slumber as a sleeping giant, he needs to bide his time and trust his man. Whether Heckingbottom is the right man or not will only be seen with time, but having made his bed he must now lie in it, appointing Stam would show yet more short-term vision which has destabilised the club.

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