Salut! Sunderland status update: we’re crestfallen

philosophy**

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.

Colin Randall

* 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

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

10 Responses to “Salut! Sunderland status update: we’re crestfallen” Subscribe

  1. sobs October 22, 2009 at 12:19 am #

    works both ways – remember when the the powers that be told SAFC that they could not wear the black cat badge on their shirts beacuse “it had not been ratified by the league”? Translated – “no black cat has paid us to be a sponsor of SAFC of the league”. Makes SAFC’s witholding of the club crest seem perfectly reasonable (unless you buy the right) but the “copyright” of a fixture list seems thoroughly pathetic. Can you just print a diary which includes where you intend to be on certain dates?

  2. Redan_White October 22, 2009 at 3:01 am #

    It’s a good job me lass has the ‘Old’ Badge on her back. It would make a right mess removing it?

    Could you not use the ‘Old’ Ship Badge?? (I prefered it anyway, nothing to do with it a adorning a bonny back mind 😉 )

    (If you need any help collating data to avoid the wrath of aggrieved parties. drop me a line)

  3. salutsunderland October 22, 2009 at 3:11 am #

    They have copyright on the old badge as well Redan_White. May have to launch a competition to get some young IT buff to come up with something for the white space. I could apparently put my SoL brick there, so it’s a relief to hear they don’t consider that, together with my name engraved on it , as their intellectual property, too.

    Yes, Sobs, in the end I could see the argument about the badge, despite the time it took anyone to think of complaining. The fixtures restrictions are grotesque and run in the face of natural justice and any notion of freedom of expression, fair dealing, common sense etc. But I wouldn’t count on any British court to do anything about it.

    I have heard hair-raising (if I had hair) tales, which I hope are exaggerated, about what has been alleged to constitute an infringement (eg mere mention of a forthcoming game).

  4. Redan_White October 22, 2009 at 3:21 am #

    Not so young but as an online database/website developer I could maybe knock a few ideas around!

    Re. Your brick does that mean you can go and hack it out of the wall in disgust. With the in-laws family’s bricks all in one big line we could maybe collapse a wall at the North end!! Mind it’s just by the turnstile we use (pure coincidence) so maybe not!!

    BTW I will be penning (?!?) an e-mail to the club over there inappropriately zealous actions.

  5. Redan_White October 22, 2009 at 3:23 am #

    If you host the site in a country without reciprocal legal arrangements can you not get round this???

  6. salutsunderland October 22, 2009 at 3:31 am #

    And be a bit like Polanski on the run for 32 years before unwisely visiting Switzerland and being nabbed by DataCo overseas agents?

    It would be contrary to the spirit of the site to do something deliberately to antagonise or offend SAFC, much as we defend and exercise our right to criticise and comment.

  7. safcogger October 22, 2009 at 3:39 am #

    I can see where the data co have stepped in over fixtures, that is a long running argument, but to be picky over the crest is something different and the way i have always understood it, was to not completely plaguerise the copy but be a little creative with it.

    Over the years i have ran my safc blog (since 2005) i have skirted on the edge but i understand that i can not appear to be representing the club in any way, much like yourselves it has to be clear that it is a fan site, otherwise it`s get shirty time.

    I have enjoyed reading the posts and banter on here for a long time much like many others have, you have already built a decent readership up so you could design the site as a banana and it will not make much difference as we all come here to read the content.

  8. Redan_White October 22, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

    It’s sad that it ‘seems’ that SAFC want to monopolise on any comment about the club as well (via SAFC.COM). Not too sure how healthy relationship with the fans that is.

    They will have editorial rights over posts and a bit like Sky(can I say this) and Sky just don’t publish your comments if they are in anway critical of, errr, well anything Sky related , personnel, agenda, *ahem*. owner….etc

    Salute to Salut!!!

  9. Tony October 23, 2009 at 6:29 am #

    Makes me wonder what the club would say if supporters wanted their shirts without the sponsors name on them?

  10. Mark July 9, 2010 at 4:32 am #

    New readers will not notice the empty white space. To better make your point you should put small font text in that space. Something like “space reserved for official badge, when permitted”.

    As for the fixtures, I like sobs idea of a calendar/diary. You don’t even have to put the times. You can say things like, and i’m making this up because I don’t have access to the official fixtures, “on 10th October I will be welcoming some Chelsea supporting friends to Sunderland” or “on 10th October I will be visiting some friends down in Chelsea”. “We’re going to have tea at 3 p.m.”. Just a thought.

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