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Is it time for Sunderland to go back to the future with our club crest?

There have been rumours about the classic ‘ship’ badge being reintroduced for the 2024/2025 season, and as Paddy Hollis writes, it could be a classy and shrewd move

Clarke and Roberts looking fine in the retro gear
Sunderland AFC

Last week’s launch of Sunderland’s 1990’s-themed Avec ‘retro range’ seems to have been well received by many fans, and you can see why.

The clean cut, modern take on a classic kit is a fine addition to the club’s clothing range, and as well as reminding us of how good some of our kits were through that decade, it also puts our classic ‘ship’ badge on Sunderland AFC-branded clothing once again.

Soccer - First Division - Sunderland - Craig Russell Photo by Barrington Coombs/EMPICS via Getty Images

Retro kits have increased in popularity in recent years, and I’m no exception.

Some of our kits from the 1980’s and 1990’s were things of beauty, and the iconic ship badge was a key factor. It’s a simple design but one which sums up Sunderland both as a city and a club.

The history of the local area should be held in high regard by a football club, and the pre-1997 badge does this by incorporating shipbuilding, an industry which was once our city’s driving force and helped to put Sunderland on the map.

The clean-cut nature of the old badge would make it a fine modern addition, and it’s about time we started taking back onboard some of the great designs and marketing ideas of the past.

Retro kits sell, and they generally seem to be given the seal of approval by fans young and old.

I’m a fan of our current crest, but the ship badge just has a simplistic value that its successor is lacking. Our former crest combined with a modern twist on the kit design could be something which becomes an instant hit, and it almost feels like a ‘free swing’ in terms of success.

Soccer - Endsleigh League Division One - Notts County v Sunderland - Meadow Lane Photo by Phil O’Brien/EMPICS via Getty Images

The recent Red and White Army Supporters’ Trust evening with Kyril Louis-Dreyfus, Kristjaan Speakman, Steve Davison and David Bruce shed some light on what the club is planning off the pitch, and with Bruce still relatively new to the job after arriving from the MLS, he’s obviously eager to hit the ground running.

At the talk-in, he made a point of explaining how he wants Sunderland’s ‘brand’ to gain more exposure, and to have the energy of the city developments replicated within the club.

Combining progress on the field with the classic badge and its history with a boardroom being staffed by competent professionals would be a step further away from the shambolic state we were in just a few short years ago.

Seeing Patrick Roberts and Jack Clarke in the new retro gear gives it an extra edge. It’s the club building on a positive time for Sunderland AFC, and it’s long overdue.

Our marketing and commercial departments have left a lot to be desired in recent years, but tapping into the potential of retro merchandise is something which is likely to be a win-win.

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