Football fans in Scotland have slammed archaic laws which put clubs’ historic crests at risk.
After Airdrieonians FC were instructed to change their badge by the Lord Lyon King of Arms because it breaks a law dating back to the 16th century, Airdrieonians Supporters Trust and Supporters Direct Scotland have launched a petition to the Scottish Parliament.
The petition calls on fans to unite against outdated legislation on heraldry being applied to football clubs. A Scottish Parliament Act passed in 1592 gives the publicly-funded Court of the Lord Lyon – which has its own procurator fiscal – responsibility for prosecuting anyone who uses unauthorised arms.
Andrew Jenkin, Head of Supporters Direct Scotland, fears that that dozens of other clubs may fall foul of the historic rules. He said that the legislation is not being applied for the purpose it was intended, and could needlessly cost clubs thousands of pounds.
He pointed out that this is just the latest in a series of similar cases: “The Lord Lyon has a long history of forcing Scottish football clubs to change crests, going back to Kilmarnock in 1993, St Mirren in 1996. Yet the names, colours and crests of clubs are assets of immense community value and changing them not only costs a lot of money, it erodes the clubs’ identity.
“The situation Airdrieonians find themselves in will only see supporters and their communities lose out. This is an opportunity for fans of all clubs to come together, show their strength and demand that common sense prevails.”
The Diamonds have been told they can ultimately be prosecuted if they continued to operate with the badge which has now been deemed illegal as it contains letters within the ‘shield’, even though the badge has been in use, without reproach, for over half a century.
Willie Marshall, Chair of the Airdrieonians Supporters Trust said “The Supporters Trust is disappointed that the Lord Lyon’s office has used an archaic law to deem our club badge illegal and have further threatened prosecution if we continue to use it.
“It seems nonsensical that a law designed to regulate heraldry in 16th century Scotland is being applied to contemporary football club badges. The implications are extremely concerning, were this to be applied on a wider scale to other clubs. We hope the Lord Lyon re-examines this decision and considers whether it is in the public interest to pursue this issue.”
Ronnie Johnston, a member of Rangers First, the largest fan group in the UK has urged fans of all clubs to sign the petition.
“I find Airdrieonian’s petition particularly relevant to a number of clubs in Scotland and I urge Rangers fans to sign it in the best interests of Scottish Football. We as supporters of all clubs need to unite to show strength. This is the time for fans to demand what they want from the game.”
Supporters of all clubs are being asked to sign the petition which can be found at: savethebadge.co.uk
Andrew Jenkin added: “The petition is already over halfway to the 1,000 signature target. This is an issue which can unite fans to persuade decision makers in the Scottish establishment to repeal these laws.”