Sport

Vincent Tan: “We’ll always be blue”

Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan cited the influence of his Buddhist mother as he opted to change the club’s colours back from red to blue after two-and-a-half years of supporter unrest over the Malaysian’s decision to rebrand the club.

The decision, made on January 9th, was welcomed by fans of the club who have continuously campaigned for a return to the Bluebirds’ traditional colours, and they turned up in numbers for City’s 1-0 victory over Fulham at the Cardiff City Stadium on the team’s return to blue.

Cynics have pointed to the 4,194 turnout at the F.A. Cup win over Colchester earlier in the month as a reason for Tan’s reconsideration – this was the club’s lowest attendance since its relocation from Ninian Park in 2009.

The game against Fulham certainly vindicated this theory: the attendance increased five-fold to 22,515 as supporters clamoured to be a part of the historic reversal of Tan’s rebrand.

Following his takeover of the club, Tan toyed with the idea of changing the colours, justified by his belief that the change to red would boost brand identity in the Asian market, as well as his own superstitions. He initially played down plans in May 2012 before going ahead with the rebrand just a month later.

The owner proceeded to step up his investment in the club following the decision, and proceeded to bankroll the club’s 2012-13 promotion to the Premier League and then invested over £50 million in a failed attempt to keep them in the division.

No one can deny that Tan has removed the financial uncertainty that plagued the club in the 2000s, but many supporters feel that the rebrand damaged the soul a club that has played in blue since 1908, while the movement away from the traditional bluebird to the Welsh dragon as a symbol of the club also riled fans.

Supporter groups have performed a number of marches against the rebrand, and at Christmas announced a stepping up in these protests, leading Tan to initially reaffirm his commitment to red before performing a u-turn in the New Year.

In a statement Tan said: “My mother, Madam Low Siew Beng, a devout Buddhist, spoke to me on the importance of togetherness, unity and happiness. Cardiff City is important to me and I wish to see it united and happy”.

This seemed to be the basis for the decision to revert the club’s colours and badge, another example of Tan’s eccentric leadership style that seems to be based on a mix of strong business decisions and superstitions in equal measure.

“We’ll always be blue” has long been the chant emanating from all four corners of the Cardiff City Stadium, and Tan will hope that his reversal in colours will in turn result in a reversal in fortunes for a City team experiencing a season of inconsistent results under Russell Slade, whose mid-season appointment has done little to improve the team’s chances of promotion.

However, in the Championship, supporters will only stick around in large numbers along as the club is giving them a reason to, and Slade is hoping that the sudden resurgence in support will spur his team up the league.

There is a feeling though that Tan’s decision is financially motivated at its core and is only the minimum expected at a time of fan unrest where Cardiff City are struggling to live up to expectations.

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