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2024 is the year of new crests for football teams

Stoke City, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Aston Villa and Rangers will debut a new style

2024 is the year of new crests for football teams Stoke City, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Aston Villa and Rangers will debut a new style

For a football team, the crest is the most important aesthetic element of all. It determines the visual identity and screams the club's social colors, and it almost always features a strong symbol: think of Manchester United's Devil or AS Roma's Lupa - sometimes a symbol of an entire city's history. There are also cases in which, much more simply, a club's crest is represented by the initial letter of the team, as in the most striking cases of Germany's Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen in which the protagonists are the Ws. As a result, the crest is also the identity element that fans are most attached to: this is why they often consider it untouchable. "Crest conservatorism" began to be felt the most starting in 2017, the year Andrea Agnelli's Juventus introduced today's version with the double J. It was a real revolution, and despite the criticism (not only from fans as much as from the most purist football fans around the world), that choice is still considered a real watershed. After this revolution, many other clubs worked to make their crests less detailed, just as federations and leagues began to try a different approach. This "revolution" did not actually hinder the protests of fans who only rarely accepted the new crests changes. 

Arsenal and the Juventus doubt

Some clubs, however, may have found some sort of balance in their quest for a more market-oriented and minimalist visual identity, such as Arsenal, only one of the clubs that is set to begin the 2024/2025 season with a restyled visual identity. The Gunners will replace the traditional crest on the home, away, and third jerseys in favor of the one with the spoiler cannon this season that has brought much luck to the Mikel Arteta's team. It was not so long ago that Arsenal chose to adopt that minimalist crest: in the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons it appeared solely on the away version jersey, in a black and an elegant gold color scheme, respectively. Instead, to remember the last time the crest with the cannon was the official one for all Arsenal match jerseys, one has to take a very long step backwards, even to the 1977/78 season; from the following until 1989/90, an embroidery of the acronym "AFC" was added to the crest. This is a rather interesting case: the club is trying to reintroduce an element from the past (in an updated minimal version) without interfering with tradition, so the "classic" crest introduced in 2002 will remain.

By doing so, it will be easier to allow the players to focus on a stylistic renovation that only concerns the design of the jerseys. According to leaks leaked over the past two months, Juventus could also adopt a similar strategy. In fact, the Turin-based team could replace the double J with a crest depicting a zebra on its Third jersey for the 2024/25 season.

Aston Villa's about-face and the Atletico Madrid case

Through teaser videos shared through its social channels, Aston Villa has unveiled the switch to a new crest that will appear on the Englishmen's jersey from the 2024/25 season, which completes a visual identity upheaval when added to the new commercial sponsor Betano and the new technical sponsor, namely adidas. It is a decision that makes the Birmingham club's prospects even more ambiguous: the switch to the new logo represents a real about-face. It repeats the style of the one used in the 2007/08 season, from 2008/09 to 2015/16, and from the 2016/17 to 2022/23 seasons, both in terms of the color scheme and the outline, with a few minor stylistic variations. In short, Aston Villa's breakthrough choice of reworking the crest used in the decade from 1980 to 1990 for this season was short-lived. 

Moving into La Liga, similarly to Aston Villa, Atletico Madrid will make the new, old crest official as of July 1. It has an incredible history as it was inherited in 1903 from Athletic Club de Bilbao. To re-elect it, a vote was put into play starting June 30, 2023 in which 77,690 of the Spanish club's 139,881 members participated. 68,894 of these, or 88.68 percent of the voters preferred a return to the traditional coat of arms, while only 8,796 members (11.32 percent of those who voted and representing 6.33 percent of the total) would have liked to keep the more recent one. 

Glasgow Rangers and Stoke City

Most unusual is the choice of Glasgow Rangers, which chooses to add a decorative element to its crest. It leaves the stylized RFC letters unchanged while adding a shield to be the background exclusively on the Away version. Again, this is a thoughtful, step-by-step choice that does not threaten the sacred tradition of the team but at the same time adds a valuable element that allows - at the very least - Away and Home jerseys to be differentiated.

Stoke City's hottest fans will not have fared well when about a week ago the club posted on its Instagram account an enigmatic countdown depicting the so-called bottle kiln, also known as a bottle oven. This is a symbol characteristic of the Stoke-on-Trent area that takes the shape of a bottle as its name implies. It has appeared, albeit peripherally, before on the club's old crests (from 1977 to 1989 and on the one used from 1989 to 1992), and many supporters feared that it might reappear on the logo now, this time as in an all-encompassing manner. Instead, it is merely the introduction of a bottle kiln on the backneck area, which could spoil the advent of a new visual identity for years to come. If so, at least in Stoke-on-Trent they have realized that for everything related to emblems, it is wise to avoid sudden changes.