BSP new boys Farsley are planning to re-brand as ‘FC Leeds’. TMN gets on its anti-marketing high horse and rides as far as 500 words will carry it…
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘rebranding’? The global capitalist juggernaut hurtling towards you, destroying everything in its path, buzzwords flying through the air like smoke and dust, blinding all sense? Customer-centric paradigm synergies? Market segmentation strategies? ‘Dynamic’ logos that look like the bottom of a toilet bowl in mid-flush? Media executives in Soho wine bars brushing white powder from their nostrils, cackling uproariously at the world’s credulity?
All these, and more, flashed before TMN’s eyes today after reading of the latest fool-hardy attempt to use rebranding as an alternative to, er, real thought and genuine action.
After the most successful period in their history, and with non league fans across the country finally taking note of their heroic rise through the pyramid, newly-promoted Blue Square Premier club Farsley Celtic want to discard 100 years of history and change their name to….Leeds Celtic or, even worse, FC Leeds.
The reason? The club suits claim that not enough people know where Farsley is.
Ignoring the possibility that he may have been calling a wrong number in Azerbaijan, Celtic’s managing director Terry Deighton said: “When we have been trying to attract new sponsors and investment we have had a lot of ‘Farsley who? Farsley where?’
Chairman Andy Firbank piped up from behind a power point presentation: “It comes down to what’s best for Farsley Celtic as a club. If we need to change our name to take us up another level from a crowd support point of view then that’s what we need to do.”
Now, TMN is no expert, but associating your small, popular, well-run club with a discredited brand like ‘Dirty Leeds’ is surely not the way to go. In fact, Farsley may well be 6 miles from Elland Road but it’s only 4 miles from Bradford….why not go the whole hog and just use ‘West Yorkshire United (Against Ken Bates)’?
Indeed, some Leeds United fans are accusing Farsley of trying to dance on a perhaps-soon-to-be-dug grave, with there currently being no guarantee that Elland Road will be hosting any kind of football this season.
‘I think most people who are proper football fans in Leeds and Bradford (a city of 300,000 on the club’s doorstep, lets alienate them!) know very well who Farsley Celtic are and where they’re from, likewise with non-league fans nationally’, said one Farsley supporter pretty sensibly.
Other Farsley Celtic fans seem to agree, judging from their message boards: the overwhelming opinion being that if you’re a small suburb with only 4 pubs and a post-office, no amount of name-changing, re-branding or marketing bumf is going to get 20 000 fans through the Throttle Nest gates every other week.
And that’s something Ford United, Purfleet and many others have discovered in recent years – not to mention the newly named Ebbsfleet United, who have recently succumbed to the promise of a wad of Eurotunnel Euros.
In fact, changing names is almost always an excuse for not facing the greater challenge of proper planning, community outreach and imaginative pricing policies.
“We don’t have any ambitions to be another Leeds United. We really wouldn’t want to be. There are a lot of differences in the two clubs,” added the Farsley Chairman.
Differences, indeed. Of course no one could hope to match Leeds United when it comes to institutional arrogance, fan misbehaviour and bearded owners with dodgy offshore holding companies designed to cheat local companies through a rigged CVA.
But all the more reason to maintain your identity, distance yourself from the League 1 club with a toxic reputation and, may we humbly suggest, bung up a few more signs across the UK with the words ‘This is the way to Farsley Celtic’ splashed across them in bold Times New Roman?
Farsley’s success has already put it on the footballing map – a superficial re-branding could wipe it straight off again. And the only people left smiling will be the marketing men and every Leeds United fan who never took their local rivals seriously enough…