Banned badges – Airdrie & Formartine

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Real life examples:

Two recent enforced badge redesigns follow different approaches. One removes the shield while the other amends it.

Case #1 – Airdrie

Airdrie United badge
Airdrie United badge

Airdrie’s football team, and their badge, have gone through several changes in the past few decades. The original Airdrieonians FC went into liquidation in 2002 and lost their league membership. An Airdrie businessman bought the assets of struggling Clydebank FC (and their league place in the then Second Division). The club was relocated to Airdrie and renamed Airdrie United FC. The new club’s badge was a double-headed eagle (based on the Airdrie coat of arms).

Airdrieonians old badge
Airdrieonians old badge

In 2013, the club took advantage of the creation of the Scottish Professional Football League to register as Airdrieonians and return to their original badge. In 2015, they were reported to the Court of the Lord Lyon and ordered to change their badge. This seems to have been the result of a trademark application (possibly by the company which own their stadium). The original Airdrieonians badge could be described heraldically, except for the offending letters, as something like:

Arms: argent two lions passant guardant in pale gules.
Crest: a cock gules.

The ‘attitude’ of the lions in the Airdrieonians badge is different from most in Scottish football, which use the ‘lion rampant’ (‘rearing up’ looking left). Airdrie’s have changed between ‘passant guardant’ (‘striding’ with lion looking outwards) and ‘passant’ (‘striding’ looking left). The shorthand for passant guardant lions used to be ‘leopards’. This caused the ‘Three Leopards’ confusion about the English national football team badge. In any case, Airdrie’s lions remind me of those in the York City FC badge. There might be connections to make between modern footballers, the lion and the Brylcreem logo but I’ll leave someone else to write about that.

Airdrieonians new badge
Airdrieonians new badge

The new Airdrieonians badge has no shield so is no longer considered a ‘heraldic device’ (and not subject to the Lord Lyon). The chevron/arrow at the bottom is meant to echo the V-shape on the front and back of the team’s home shirt (together forming the diamond shape that gives them their nickname).

I think the redesign does the job but a few details could have been sharpened up. A wider line under the cockerel, the same width as the box and chevron, would have helped create the illusion of a shield. The droopy scroll still doesn’t match the shape – a shallower curve would have looked better (slightly smaller text would still be readable).

Another option would have been a diamond-shaped badge but perhaps the club didn’t want to ‘chop and change’ again after the Airdrie United years. Their Excelsior Stadium already had a mix of various Airdrieonians and Airdrie United badges on signs and bins around the ground. I don’t know if the new one has been added to the collection as I haven’t been to that part of North Lanarkshire since the latest change.

Case #2 – Formartine United

Formartine Utd old badge
Formartine Utd old badge

Formartine United come from Pitmedden, a rural village between Aberdeen and Peterhead. They used to be a Junior club but joined the Highland League in 2009. In October 2010 Formartine were ordered to remove the saltire from their badge. They were reported anonymously to the Court of the Lord Lyon. Most theories think this was done by a rival fan but that’s never been confirmed.

Heraldic description:

quartered, in the first azure with saltire argent, in the second and third argent paled gules and in the fourth azure a winged lion rampant or.
Formartine Utd new badge
Formartine Utd new badge

In late 2012, the club appear to have reached a compromise with the Lord Lyon to avoid prosecution. They redesigned their shield to remove the saltire. Presumably, they also had to pay to register the new shield as well as change signage at their ground and merchandise. The quarters and stripes in their old badge reminded me a bit of Sunderland AFC. Their new badge seems more like something from the Low Countries or Germany. That probably makes it quite distinctive amongst Scottish and UK football teams. The yellow ribbon is very similar to the one in the old Scottish Football Association badge (worn by the national team from 1988–2000).

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