Football club forced to drop Saltire from 50 year old crest


  By a Newsnet reporter
A Highland league football club has been forced to remove the Scottish flag from its club badge after a member of the public complained.
The Saltire had been proudly displayed on the club crest of Formartine United for 53 years, but has now been dropped and the club forced to re-brand at a cost of thousands.

According to STV news the badge, which featured a saltire, a lion rampant and red stripes with French writing was deemed illegal under heraldic law.  However a compromise has allowed the club to retain the red stripes and the lion rampant.

Speaking to the Scottish broadcaster, club secretary Martin Johnston said more hurt had been caused to the fans emotionally.

He said: “It will be a sad day when the badge is completely removed from all items inside the ground.

“It was designed over 50 years ago and it represents everything about the club – but it’s been taken away from us.

“We are very proud of our badge and heritage and it’s only when we’ve been told to change it that we’ve realised how much we’ll miss it.

“We lost the saltire which we were most disappointed about as we are staunchly Scottish.”

The identity of the complainant, who lodged his protest two years ago, has never been revealed.  Had the club refused to comply with a notice instructing replacement of the crest all of the branded items could have been confiscated.

Mr Johnston added: “The person who complained has never come out of cover to explain themselves.

“It’s ridiculous, you look everywhere and Scottish Premier League clubs have shield badges. As do bowling clubs, tennis clubs – even lorries have them with saltires.

“We thought there’s no way we’re going to roll over and accept this, so we drove for a compromise and we’re delighted we got one.

“But it’s had a massive impact on our club, the badge is seen everywhere, whether it be on stationery, shirts or crockery in hospitality and we’re having to spend a lot of money to change them.

“We are allowed to sell the current branded stock till the end of this season and I imagine some of the goods will become collector’s items.”

MEANWHILE reports that complaints had led to the removal of the saltire from two Aberdeen City fire engines has been denied by the Chief Fire Officer of the Grampian based fleet.

Responding to a query from Newsnet Scotland, the Head of the fleet insisted that no complaints had been received in relation to the Scottish flags on two new engines and that they had simply been rebranded in order to bring them into line with the other vehicles.

In a statement, the Chief Fire Officer wrote:

Contrary to what is being reported in the mainstream press and on a number of social media sites, no complaints were received either from members of staff or from members of the public about the Saltires being on the vehicles. The decals were removed simply to maintain the appearance of the two fire engines in keeping with the other 72 fire service vehicles in Grampian’s fleet.

The two fire engines were the first to arrive in Grampian Fire and Rescue Service since the announcement earlier this year of the new single Scottish Fire and Rescue Service that will come into being on 1 April 2013. In preparation for that change the two appliances were marked up with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service name.

To celebrate the new Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and highlight that the fire engines were built in Scotland, arrangements were made for them to appear at the Truckfest 2012 event in Edinburgh in August. For these reasons, the Saltire decal was applied to them.

After arriving in the Service in August they went through two months of fitting-out and acceptance testing. The Service’s Management Team took a collective decision in August to remove the Saltire decals from the two appliances after their appearance at Truckfest 2012 and before they went into operational use as they were not in keeping with the other 72 vehicles in the fleet, none of which display the Saltire. However, during the preparations this was simply overlooked.

The fire engines went into operational service at Central Fire Station in Aberdeen on 2 November and 7 November. On Thursday 22 November it was highlighted that the decals were still in place and action was taken to remove them. The removal was done not because of any complaint as none had been received, it was done to correct an oversight during the preparation of the two fire engines for their operational use.