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Badge of honour: Is it time to have a discussion about Sunderland’s club crest?

As the club continues to move forward into a new era, Tom Albrighton says that it’s time to consider the possibility of reverting to a classic design for our badge

Photo by Ashley Allen - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

A badge is a unique and special thing.

To some, it’s merely a token emblem; to others, a symbol of their very being, their beliefs, hopes, desires, sexuality and so much more. They’re worn with pride, with meaning and weight behind them.

In the modern era, they’ve also become more than simply an artistic rendering of a club’s roots, but the face of a brand- an artistic synergy between representation and utmost profitability.

Over the years, football badges have been subject to change and fluctuation, as much as trends and fashions have evolved over the years.

The new era has seen simplification and streamlining become bywords in design and whilst not always a popular shift in direction (here’s looking at whoever created Leeds United’s proposed new crest) they’ve largely been welcomed, even with a tinge of scepticism.

It’s a modern trend that even some of the biggest names in European football can’t ignore, with some clubs going far beyond a simple redesign in order to make theirs the biggest brand in a market worth billions of pounds.

The Serie A Logo and Juventus Club Badge Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images

With that in mind, is it time for Sunderland to jump on the bandwagon?

The choice is a fairly simple one for many fans and one that, should our traditions be adhered to, would be an almost universally popular decision.

The current iteration of our club crest is fast becoming dated and cluttered. Issues with complexity may seem trivial, but given that the last half-dozen versions of Sunderland shirts haven’t featured an embroidered badge, it isn’t as picky as it sounds.

What’s more, what does it really represent?

The imagery hardly screams ‘City of Sunderland’ - bar some fleeting nods to local iconography that would mean little to anyone from outside of the area. The colours, of course, represent the club of the modern era but any acknowledgement of our rich and varied history starts and abruptly stops with the red and white.

Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images,

The image that has been used since 1997 represents and means very little to me, and it isn’t personal to the fans or the area.

Ironically, our most iconic badge of the last hundred or so years is the one that suits the modern era the most; a rendering that represents the great heritage of a club formed on the North East coastline and one that pays tribute to the very foundations of Sunderland AFC whilst endearing itself to fans new and old.

I’m talking about the grand old ship. A design that has experienced a cult revival in recent years, and it’s easy to see why.

In an era where clean lines and simple iconography marries to an instantly recognisable and unique crest, Sunderland fans have already started to push the envelope, perhaps without even realising.

Sales of historic kits featuring our most recognisable emblem have soared in recent years. Indeed, the club itself has even begun to tap into the market, with replica kits from years gone by appearing for sale, as well as the first team training in Dubai whilst wearing possibly the most iconic and stylish training kit we’ve ever had.

As we seek to shake off the disappointment of some torrid years and look forward to a brighter future, it would seem more than fitting to return to a crest that means so much to so many.

A return to a revered emblem would give many the feeling of being reconnected, after almost a decade of the fans and the club itself being almost entirely separate entities.

Yes, we’ve had some excellent days under the umbrella of our current badge, particularly when it was adorned on the chests of thousands on the big screens of Wembley, but the truth is that the previous design never needed to be replaced.

Ultimately, the decision to change will have to be implemented from the top, with the fans consulted as part of the process.

I can’t think of many more effective ways that Kyril Louis-Dreyfus could further endear himself to the fans than to at least open the door on a conversation that wouldn’t only mean something to you or me, but to Sunderland as a whole.

A combination of a happy fanbase, increased revenue potential and some good PR into the bargain? It’s potentially a win-win situation.

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