The 18th Man column: Thought on Wigan Warriors' new badge
Our 18th Man columnists give their thoughts on Wigan's new badge... and who should replace Toronto Wolfpack
Were Wigan right to introduce a new badge? And do you like it?
Alex Graham: I was a part of the fan consultancy process over the last year, and attended numerous meetings and Zoom calls over that period with the club and those involved with the process.
I understand the reasons why they’ve chosen to do it and, in my opinion, and despite what the club says, it was mainly led by Sky Sports as part of the credentials with regards to any future broadcasting deals. Whether the reasons are to appease Sky or they are genuinely for the best interests of the club, I think the design is modern, simplistic and something fans old and new can get on board with – until you come to the ‘warrior’ aspect.
This is where I think the club has failed to compromise with the fanbase, and have allowed Sky to dictate to the club that we must use an image of the warrior.
Personally, I think the overall decision to simplify the logo to ensure it is compatible with the modern digital era is correct. But the club should have been more considerate of the detail in respect of the club’s fanbase and investors, not the competition’s ruthless and heartless broadcast partner.
Sean Lawless: I was lucky enough and honoured to have been asked by the club, along with a number of other fans, to be consulted on the badge. From the first consultation with Kris Radlinski in January, it was clear from his stark analysis of the game in regards to the future of a broadcasting deal that, as a sport, we have to adapt, adjust or die. That would be as a sport and as a club, so as a club it felt like we needed to do something.
The fans that were involved were critical friends of the club, the club received plenty of challenges, and this was taken on board throughout the process.
I am a fan of the badge, but I have had the benefit of living with it since June, so it’s normal to me now! The new merchandise range is out of this world, the club can now produce quality products that they have been unable to do previously. My summary of the badge is that, as a 31-year-old, the badge wasn’t changed for me – it’s for a younger generation, it’s for the new fans.
Many people still struggle with the name warrior, despite it being around for nearly a quarter of a century. But we need to adapt, change and grow . Sometimes it’s difficult, but the badge is here to stay.
Stephen Ford: Only the club can answer if it’s right to have a new badge. I haven’t seen their management accounts or been part of their strategic planning.
I dislike the badge intensely. Too bland, too much cherry, too much like a pile of other non-descript badges devoid of character. We are now the Brentford of Super League.
If they were going to change, they should have been more ambitious. The Ancient & Loyal strapline is confusing and I would suggest meaningless. Ancient & Loyal supporters? Ancient & Loyal players?
I think the club will ditch Ancient & Loyal as soon as they possibly can, which may be in a couple of years.
Jon Lyon: My first thoughts when I saw the new badge – also being the first instance I knew we were even considering a new badge – was NO!
It’s not that I don’t like the new badge, the jury’s still out on that one, but I love our old badge.
That said, having listened to Kris Radlinski explaining the reasoning behind it, I am warming to the idea. I’m not a marketing guru, but I trust Radlinski implicitly.
He’s every bit as much a Wigan fan as the rest of us, and only ever has the club’s best interests at heart. If Kris feels this is the best way to take the club forward, improving our brand and attracting investment, then I’m fully on board.
Ultimately, we often resist change at first, but I’ve no doubt we will all become used to the idea. It’s like when Janet in accounts gets a crazy new hairdo or some dodgy glasses! You might be shocked at first but, within a few weeks, you can’t even remember what she looked like before. If Wigan are successful on and off the pitch, isn’t that all that really matters?
Darren Wrudd: Well it seems that since childhood I have been out of sync with many folk, being quite happy to sit in that position for much of the time, and anyone who has been determined enough to read my ramblings over the last 17 years here will no doubt agree. The new badge has indeed ruffled many a feather but, although at first sight I had almost a shocked and ‘how dare they’ reaction, I allowed myself a 24-hour period to think before I reacted.
This was a good thing to do ,as it helped me read and listen to both sides of the debate as a neutral, and try to understand the insecurities of us dedicated and dyed-in-the-wool supporters about losing our identity. But if you look at it, we are not losing anything, on the contrary we are gaining an extra modern badge.
The coat of arms will still be an important part of our club and be used in the correct and respectful manner which we all hope for. But a modern look to our emblem to match the Warriors moniker is going to help further develop our brand, and I actually quite like it. It took me a little by surprise to be honest, and that I think is why there has been such a strong reaction. But looking at it on the merchandise already on the club website, I think it looks really good (although the prices don’t). So before your hackles go up, have a proper think and smile. If it’s good for the club, I am all for it.
How do you feel about Toronto not being in Super League next year – and who would you like to see replace them?
Alex Graham: I think the decision lacked long-term vision, strategy or consideration for growth and expansion for the sport.
The governance for Super League is 11 clubs whose primary concern is what benefits their club tomorrow, not what will benefit the overall sport in five, 10 or 20 years time. We’ve seen reports of the apparent poor quality of the presentation by the new Toronto owners, and the question marks over funding. But the same criticisms could be made towards existing heart clubs. I found it ironic that, 24 hours after the decision, the same clubs who voted against forfeited fixtures due to having no reserve grade infrastructure, and Salford were docked points from an outstanding debt from 2013! The governance in this country is a mess.
For the Super League to get their house in order, it firstly needs the RFL to do so too, because a competition led by a club-voting system does nothing but promote self-interest, and totally stagnates the sport. I’m tired of investing so much time, money and care for a sport which fails to progress due to selfish, insular short-sighted attitudes. Hopefully common sense will prevail and Toronto will be replaced by a club with a strategic purpose, with London Broncos or Toulouse being the most sensible choices should they meet basic criteria.
Sean Lawless: I am gutted about Toronto but, if the evidence wasn’t presented to sustain them as a club, Super League have done the right thing in dropping them now before the debacle got worse. In an ideal world, if central funding wasn’t an issue, I would love to see a 14-team Super League with York, Leigh, London and Toulouse added to the mix.
Stephen Ford: They couldn’t guarantee finances, so for me there is no way they could have been allowed in the competition after this season’s debacle. I’d like to see London replace them.
Jon Lyon: I’ve said numerous times I just don’t see a transatlantic club being sustainable in the long term. That’s before you even look at the shambles that occurred with Toronto this season. No doubt Toronto were hardest hit by the challenges Covid-19 has thrown at us, but their planning and the organisation of the squad was poor to begin with. And with injuries mounting and a tiny squad, I think they would have struggled to fulfil fixtures even without a pandemic.
I feel sorry for their very passionate fans, and hope they can find a way to be involved in a Canadian/American league, but I feel the decision to omit them from Super League is the right one for both the short and long term. Ultimately if they were not able to submit the financial assurance needed, how could they expect to be admitted after what has happened this year?
As for the 12th team, there are strong cases for York and Toulouse, but my choice would be London. They performed superbly last time and, if we are trying to look outside the M62 corridor, they would be a step in the right direction.
Darren Wrudd: Everyone knows I have never been a fan of this type of expansion and so, from that point of view, I am indeed pleased we will not see Toronto in the Super League.
But it certainly brings me no joy that this is at the cost of many jobs and will cause some short-term hardship for the staff who worked at the club. It is easy to say ‘I told you so’ after the fact, but the game is just not ready for world domination and possibly never will be.
That might be difficult for some to hear as the bright lights of international travel cloud judgment, but we need money in this sport – and that has to be built by bigger audiences over here rather than hiking prices or bringing in more gimmicks like Toronto. As for Super League, we must have 12 teams in 2021, and I think a conversation with Featherstone must be on the cards. They were second placed last year to let Toronto up, so they have earned the right for a crack at the title. Tell them now, though, give them plenty of time to get a good pre season together and stand a chance of survival beyond next year in the top tier.
Finally, looking back, what did you like most about last Friday’s derby win?
Alex Graham: I liked the fact it showed for the first time under Adrian Lam we’re capable of winning a big game. In two years and three attempts we’ve not reached the final of a major competition. Last Friday was the first win after six attempts at winning at derby.
The next test now, is producing consistency heading into the play-offs. In 16 fixtures we’ve probably played to that level maybe twice or three times, but to win the competition we have to maintain Friday’s performance.
There does seem to be elevated confidence within the squad, especially since Brad Singleton joined the club. But imagine spirits if won the League Leaders’ Shield on Friday against Huddersfield.
If we did produce another inconsistent performance and lost against Huddersfield. we’d potentially place third before the play-offs, which would make the fantastic performance last week almost insignificant.
The momentum must continue to build for us to win the competition.
Sean Lawless: The biggest thing from last Friday’s win was the improvement from the forwards compared to the Leeds semi-final. There was an aggression to match any team in the world.
Matty Peet has to take credit for the resurgence in the defensive performances since he came back to the club midway through last season. We have the aggression, the defence and the most attractive attacking back line in Super League – what’s not to like!
Stephen Ford: We won. Nothing better than beating them.
Jon Lyon: What was not to like? An outstanding game of rugby by two committed teams. Our defence was phenomenal throughout the game and the work ethic of the players and desire to be there for each other was a joy to watch.
Jackson Hastings looked like he stepped up another level in that game. and seems so hungry and in control of the game at the moment. Liam Farrell was his usual outstanding self. and if he’s not in the running for Man of Steel there’s something wrong. Singling people out. though. is unfair as to a man the team were impeccable.
With the extended play-offs being brought in ahead of schedule, if we can maintain that kind of form there’s no-one we need to fear.
Darren Wrudd: Old greasy legs James Graham played in his last home derby to watch his side lose to a better Wigan team, knowing they had just left the Leaders’ Shield in the hands of their arch-rivals. That must have stung a bit. But I suppose I enjoyed the speed of the game, which was a ferocious encounter as our sport should be. Much of that was down to the referee Chris Kendall, who did a great job of keeping the flow of the game going, and is in my opinion one of the best referees we have in Super League. But seeing the desire in the squad as they put together the best performance of the year so far was my highlight. The lads seem to be playing with their tails up and enjoying the game again, and this leads to some brilliant efforts. So well done to the lads and Adrian Lam for showing just how much this means to us all.
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