The embryo of this article was a rant, a denunciation of the corporate face of football responsible for the newly shorn look to the header you see above. Has anyone noticed? We’ve lost the Sunderland AFC crest. This is the story of how and why it happened (and why the rant became, we hope, a model of measured reflection) …
For closer to three years than two, it didn’t seem to trouble anyone. On the right of Craig McGinty‘s striking design of the Salut! Sunderland header appeared the club badge. Unobtrusive, we thought, just a detail.
In a number of cordial exchanges with the club over that period, no complaint was made. Indeed, although it was obvious the site was seen by Stadium of Light folk, however infrequently and cursorily, there was no mention of the design.
We assumed there to be no problem, that the club recognised and maybe even appreciated the efforts made by passionate fans to report on and generally help promote interest in Sunderland football club. We are in competition with no one, from the official club site and mainstream news media to the most irreverent fanzine, and – much as we might hope things were different – we make no money* from the site.
Then, as if from nowhere, the Football Data Company appeared on the scene. Sledgehammers and nuts sprang to mind. But suddenly the crest is no more.
That, at any rate, is the romantic version of what has happened.
The fuller truth reveals that everything has been conducted on entirely courteous terms and, after an emergency editorial summit in the East Stand concourse before the Liverpool game, Salut! Sunderland accepts that a rant would be out of place on a site that wishes SAFC only success.
We even respect the club’s complete right to defend its “intellectual property” – sounds unbelievably pompous, but it is the correct phrase – and can think of no proper grounds for failing to act as directed, by the Football Data Co and then by implication the club, in removing the badge. The fact that no one thought it worth bothering about for well over two-and-a-half years is, in reality, an argument only if you also believe, for example, that the police should never launch a belated criminal investigation.
But we did owe the large number of supporters who visit this site an explanation of why it now looks slightly different.
There were surreal aspects to the exchanges between us and the Football Data people and the club, but these would be tedious to recount.
The history of Salut! Sunderland‘s relations with SAFC contains no trace of animosity of which I am aware. There is certainly no cosiness; we expect no favours. Ellis Short is not about to invite us into the boardroom for tea, and he is not in the running for our editorship.
Sunderland are hardly the only club to prefer to keep fanzines and fans’ site at arm’s length; perhaps it would compromise our independence and integrity if this were otherwise.
So we have triumphed over grumpiness and acted as was (politely) requested, to the extent of removing the modest table of forthcoming fixtures which had been “imported” from the Football United network and was therefore assumed by us to be beyond reproach.
No rant, then, but an attempt to reflect with accuracy and restraint the truth of a mundane matter of compliance. The pages of Salut! Sunderland are open to anyone who feels further clarification is required.
* Salut! Sunderland attracts small amounts of advertising revenue – feel free to make them larger – but these so far do no more than help towards the cost of running the site and making occasional charitable donations and token payments in recognition of exceptional assistance.
** The T-shirt can be obtained from Philosophy Football