There's been plenty of discussion about this on the talkboards over the last few days, fuelled by this highly dubious Sunday Mirror story, which claims that Thaksin is going to give our badge a Thai-makeover, incorporating an elephant / mythical creature / Bangkok ladyboy, or whatever, into the design.
Considering that this is the paper that brought us the classic 'Thaksin Asks Players To Bow' nonsense, and that photos of next season's kit, if genuine, have the current badge on them, I'm guessing the story is largely mischief-making by a disgruntled - and possibly former - employee.
However, the possibility of a change of badge was raised at a Points of Blue meeting earlier in the year, attended by City's head of operations Sara Billington, and the matter appears to be under review. Certainly, with the club under new ownership a change of badge might be appropriate, particularly as there are plenty of fans, myself included, who have never been happy with the current one.
Although the introduction of the new badge in 1997 made good sense (Francis Lee revealed at the time that we weren't getting royalties on the old one), I do think it's a very flawed design. While the overall look of the badge is not bad, it hardly screams either "City" or "Manchester". Here it is close up:
My first gripe is that the eagle looks too much like the back of US quarter, or worse, a Nazi symbol. According to the original press release, the eagle was "taken from the Badge of the City of Manchester, dating from 1957". I'm not sure which badge this refers to, as Manchester has been using the same coat of arms since 1842 (pictured lower down) and that certainly doesn't contain an eagle.
The three stars "have no significance and are purely decorative", according to Mcfc.co.uk, and there's even doubts about the meaning, and spelling, of the Latin motto. The original press release claimed the motto was "Superbia In Proelio", but on the badge it is clearly spelt "Praelia", while I've also seen "Praelia" used. And to cap it off, "superbia" best translates as arrogance, according to this item from the McVittee archive.
Below are the designs that have been used throughout the club's history, starting with the Ardwick AFC badge dating from 1887:
That design was ditched after Ardwick evolved into Manchester City in 1894, and the official coat of arms of Manchester was adopted as the club crest. United also used this crest until the late 1960s though it appears that, unlike City, they needed permission on each occasion. "Concileo et Labore" loosely translates as "wisdom and effort":
The only other design I've seen used before the 1970s is this odd one that appeared on season tickets in the 1920s. Thankfully, it doesn't appear to have lasted that long:
The 1970s saw a redesign of the official Manchester crest which, for some reason, involved losing a stripe:
Traditionally only worn for Cup finals, the crest was used on shirts from 1977 to 1981:
I love both the look and the idea of using the Manchester coat of arms on shirts, but the fact that the club can't copyright it means it's unlikely to make another appearance. I'm presuming that copyright was also the reason the classic round badge was introduced, with clubs recognising the potential in club merchandising by the 1960s.
According to Gary James' Manchester: The Greatest City, the original version of this badge first started appearing in programmes and club documentation in the mid-1960s, but wasn't used on the shirt until the 1971-72 season:
In January 1972, a modified version of the badge was introduced. Surprisingly, this particular design has only been used on shirts for 19 seasons (compared to 11 seasons for the new badge) though somehow it feels much longer than that. Maybe my feelings about it are largely shaped by nostalgia, but I just think it is a thing a beauty:
Personally, I'm with Sir Ron Manager at Citymancs, who believes we should revert to this design. It's not clear who currently owns the copyright on the badge, but it might still be Eddie Phillips, who ran the old souvenir shop. According to this interview with Francis Lee, Phillips bought the rights to the badge from Peter Swales in the 1980s and also paid an annual flat fee for control of the souvenir shop, worth just £60,000 a year to the club in 1994.
That deal was terminated in 1995 when City took back control of the Maine Road souvenir shop and Phillips moved out (the redeveloped merchandise operation was making an estimated £2.5 million-a-year by 1998). It appears he took his badge with him, although there are still a few items at the City Store with it on.
Considering how much design consultants charge, you do wonder whether it would be just as cheap for the club to buy back the copyright. PR doesn't come cheap either, and reverting to the classic badge would certainly be a great publicity coup for our controversial owner.
Another option is a new badge that's close to the traditional design, such as this one posted by Wheelsy OSC Sydney at Bluemoon.
Or failing that we could just go the whole hog, with this design posted by MaineRoadMemories at Mancityfans:
~ I found an an excellent site called Behind The Badges, which has the history of the club badges for 98 English league teams.
~ You can see a graphic of every City home kit since 1884 at Historical Kits.