The Premier League is, as we are often told, a “worldwide brand” the kind of which very few can compete with.
Every weekend all over the globe there are people waking up at all hours to catch a glimpse of their favourite clubs, players and matchups, and they’ll do it all again and again.
To many of them, Cardiff City would have been a new name before the past couple of weeks.
They would have been vaguely aware that the club from the Welsh capital won the Championship title last season, but not the story behind them, and specifically one very recent and important one.
The reasons, whys and wherefores of Cardiff’s “rebranding” at the beginning of last season – a move which saw the club change badge and, most crucially, their colours of over 100 years – have been covered in greater detail and with greater passion than we can do justice to here (this from Welsh football site Ffwtbol is particularly recommended), but there can’t have been many football fans turning green with envy at Cardiff’s long-threatened decision to switch from blue to red in 2012.
Owner Vincent Tan has indeed helped inject the money which has fired the club still officially nicknamed the Bluebirds – take a look at the bottom of the badge – up to the top flight, but it has come at a desperately depressing cost.
Those fans from all over the world – and chiefly Tan’s homeland Malaysia, who the rebranding has seemingly been intended for – might not have known it, but when they were watching Cardiff’s thrilling 3-2 victory over Manchester City on Sunday, plenty of important people weren’t.
Plenty of people who have been following Cardiff week in week out, up and down the divisions and into an FA Cup final in 2008 and League Cup final in 2012 – just weeks before the rebrand – don’t watch Cardiff any more. They feel it isn’t their club.
That stance is a perfectly understandable one.
Imagine the outcry if Liverpool or Manchester United suddenly switched to wearing blue, and Chelsea or Manchester City to red, all in order to please overseas fans?
Messing with the very fabric of a club is sacrilege to football supporters who feel that club is theirs. They know it’s theirs. They’ve invested so much time, money and effort into it for that to even be a question.
Changing the way that club looked and acted proved too much for some of those Cardiff fans, and plenty – a minority yes, but still tangible – have vowed to never watch the club again.
Of course the attraction of Premier League football, multi-million pound players and victories like Sunday’s will ensure that those seats are always going to be filled, but this has come at a terrible cost.
Does Tan care? No. Do the fans who still go to watch Cardiff – as they have every right to do so of course, not everyone has to have the same beliefs – care too? Perhaps not, although many will.
The club in the red shirts are now very much a part of football’s elite, but so many elements of Cardiff City aren’t.
Plenty will claim that those who now don’t go should just “get over it”, but what if they can’t?
Sunday would have been a difficult day for them, just as much as it was a fantastic day for those who have no problem with the rebrand. Good luck to them, this promises to be a fascinating campaign, but they might just occasionally take time out to think about absent friends.
Yes, it is “only a shirt” in one sense.
It means so, so much more in many others though.
Mourinho makes his point at Old Trafford
The snoozefest on offer at Old Trafford on Monday night would have hardly set pulses racing for the remainder of the Premier League season, but it could just be one of the more crucial matches for Chelsea.
By fielding no recognised forward against Manchester United, Jose Mourinho seemed to be making his point that his club needs to buy before the closure of the transfer window – despite having the quality of Fernando Torres and Romelu Lukaku on the bench and Demba Ba not even in the squad.
Mourinho has made clear who his preferred target would be, but a move for Wayne Rooney is suddenly looking increasingly unlikely as the clock ticks down towards Monday night.
Whether it is Rooney or not, a forward certainly looks likely to arrive at Stamford Bridge, and with Mourinho seemingly harbouring doubts over those currently at his disposal, perhaps it could be an arrival which spearheads their title challenge.
Liverpool and Spurs play copycats
Two games, two 1-0 wins, two goals each from their main available forwards and the last two remaining 100% records in the Premier League. It seems that Liverpool and Tottenham are copying each other at the moment.
Things will get tougher for the pair this weekend when the Reds host Manchester United and Spurs go to Arsenal, but for now they seem happy to follow in each other’s footsteps.
Which begs the question, should Liverpool have held out for a higher offer for Stewart Downing from Real Madrid before they sold him to West Ham?!