A club badge is a sacred part of any sporting team’s history, particularly in football where clubs have often kept the same crest for their entire existence.
It’s more than just a marketing ploy, or a space to fill a part of a shirt. A club’s badge is its identity, the first thing many people think of when discussing a club, the emblem that represents their lives from Friday to Sunday.
We’re not being at all dramatic here, either. We’re actually underselling it. The badge is the last bastion of tribalism. If you go changing that, you throw away years of history and upset a lot of fans – particularly the ones who have the old one tattooed to them somewhere.
Some sides just don’t get that, though, and don’t listen. At least for a bit. With that in mind, here are 11 examples of clubs ripping up the rulebook and changing their side’s badge.
In 2021, it was all change on the blue side of Milan. As well as ending a lengthy partnership with shirt sponsor Pirelli, Inter announced they would be adorning a new club crest.
Out was the gold detailing and the intricacies of the ‘FC’ and in was a soulless circle of lines, that looks more like the logo of an overpriced suburban restaurant. Not a huge change, but a terrible one.
Upgrade or downgrade?
Inter Milan have released their new club badge 🔵⚫️ pic.twitter.com/820EBoB4B9
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 30, 2021
After almost 20 years of their eagle design, City went back to a circular club crest in 2016, during Pep Guardiola’s first season at the club.
While it isn’t one of the worst re-designs ever, and they do have a history with the circular badge, it was a shame to see such a unique crest cast aside for something more brand-friendly and simplistic. We see right through you and your callbacks to the past, City.
— Lesley Ross (@111Lesley111) June 30, 2016
Only Leeds – one of football’s most chaotic clubs – could pull something like this. In 2018, their owners announced the old badge would be replaced with a new design.
That design remains one of the worst badges you’ll ever see. ‘Leeds United’ was plastered along the top of the crest, with a fist punching a chest beneath. It looked like if you asked a teenager learning Photoshop for the very first time to pull together a new logo for the local gym.
To absolutely no surprise, it was rejected by fans and never adopted.
Back in 2018 when Leeds United announced this badge change, it received backlash like no other.
50,000 people signed a petition asking the club to pull the plug on this project the very same day it was announced.
Even with 10,000 fans being consulted during the design process! pic.twitter.com/HZXobnJwMK
— COPA90 (@Copa90) June 28, 2023
One of football’s great crimes, this one.
Juve, whose storied history is proudly displayed through the form of their oval, striped emblem, committed the cardinal sin that was the badge change in 2019, and it remains one of the worst examples ever.
Out was the traditional, unique logo and in was a letter J. That’s it. The letter J. Soulless is an understatement. You sold out.
— Alan Atkinson (@AlanAtkinson85) January 17, 2017
Ahead of the 2023-24 Premier League season, Villa have shelved their traditional shield crest and adopted a new badge.
You guessed it – it’s a circle.
It’s not bad, per se, but it’s incredibly boring. And they now look like every other club on the planet with a circular crest. It’ll take some getting used to.
Aston Villa set to change their club Badge in 2023/24 season. pic.twitter.com/UA3xa3ovVc
— @Baruch Kelvin 14 (@Baruchkelvin14) November 10, 2022
Sticking with acceptable but slightly disappointing changes, Arsenal pulled the trigger on a big rebrand in 2002.
Out was the very traditional-looking shield, which they were unable to copyright, and in was a sleek, new take on it.
Credit to the Gunners for retaining key elements such as the shape and the cannon. That old badge was marvellous, though.
How Arsenal's 2002 badge rebrand spawned endless clones and ruined football. Read my piece for The Athletic… pic.twitter.com/XoCXFNgs29
— Coronation Quiche Starmer (@RobotCanary) November 18, 2020
Juventus’ badge change was one of the greatest crimes, but it’ll never eclipse what went on at Cardiff from 2012 to 2015. Nothing ever will.
Owner Vincent Tan ushered in a new era for the club, changing the Bluebirds’ (!) traditional badge and home kit colours to red, to honour investment into the club from their Malaysian owners.
That is the sin of all sins. Needless to say it didn’t last and Cardiff were rightfully back in blue after three years, with a blue badge to match. The fact the owners actually stuck to their guns with it for that long, though, is ridiculous.
The day the bluebirds died
The wildest move an owner has made in recent history is at Cardiff. Not only changing the badge but the whole colour of the club from blue to red, sparking mass protests and record low attendances.
Three years later the club reverted back to blue. pic.twitter.com/893hwcelwx
— COPA90 (@Copa90) June 28, 2023
This one was a real shame.
MLS is still finding its feet in the global sphere of football, with people forgetting that the United States’ top-flight is still just barely 30 years old.
Badge changes and identity crises are a little more expected, therefore. But when the Columbus Crew ditched their incredibly unique ‘CREW’ badge, which pictured three soldiers marching out the shield, it was gutting. Especially upon learning that the new badge was a circle. Ugh.
— Ruairi Dorrity (@ruairidx) October 16, 2015
The Columbus Crew have a new badge! What do you think? pic.twitter.com/r76dG77LIv
— The Opening Whistle (@OpeningWhistle) October 9, 2014
A similar story to the crew, Chicago Fire adorned an incredibly unique, flower-like design until 2019, when the club went back to the drawing board.
Except they didn’t go to the drawing board. It instead looked like they went to Fiverr and paid someone with no interest in football to design a new logo.
That abomination lasted just two years before they rebranded again, to something closer to their original design.
— kotologo (@kotologo) November 22, 2019
New Chicago fire badge looking crisp asf, might actually get a kit now lol pic.twitter.com/cR2ljp5l2F
— 𖤐 333 𐕣 (@fucksecre) October 19, 2021
In a bid to simplify their design and look a little more sleek, West Ham tweaked their crest in 2016 to usher in a new era, as they waved goodbye to the Boleyn Ground and hello to the London Stadium.
It’s not terrible, but it could certainly be better. Seven years on, the badge they left behind still feels more iconic.
⚒West Ham Followers/Fans:
What badge do you prefer?
RETWEET – Old
LIKE – New pic.twitter.com/4RxgMitWeq
— Ryan Mc 🚛⚒️ (@ryanmack84) March 15, 2017
Taking inspiration from Turin, Nantes also waved goodbye to their own history in 2019 and copied Juventus in identifying themselves through a singular letter.
Out was a unique shield that honoured their domestic success through stars, their founding date and a ship that honours the city’s seaport and estuary. In was the letter N.
We don’t have the words.
Like Ik everyone in Nantes wants the badge back, but it’s a bit different pic.twitter.com/rFgkfbwUNk
— 🕊️ (@HotspurCaIIum) June 27, 2023