Championship side Leeds United have been met with a barrage of criticism after presenting their new club crest.
On Wednesday, the club showed off their new badge, which comprises the image of a figure doing the so-called 'Leeds Salute' – thumping the chest with a clenched fist – beneath the club's name in bold letters.
Leeds say they chose the design, which will feature on shirts for the 2018-19 season, in which they celebrate their centenary, after six months of research and consultation with more than 10,000 people, including "legends, current players, club staff, the owner, partners and representatives from the Leeds and Yorkshire communities".
They explained in a statement: "The abbreviation rather than spelling out Leeds United in full contributes to the crest being unrecognisable. We wanted to say who we are with pride: We are Leeds United.
"The new crest depicts the 'Leeds Salute', which over the decades has been an expression of the passion that connects Leeds United's fans and players on and off the pitch and all over the world.
"It is used extensively, and notably on match days when with right hand on heart fans sing the club's famous song 'Marching on Together'. Leeds United owes everything to the supporters who have stood by the club through thick and thin. We are delighted and proud to reveal a new crest that reflects the passion and loyalty that runs deep through the club, and celebrates the fans at the heart of our identity."
Goal's Head of Multimedia, David Milner, said: "It is an unorthodox, and seemingly unpopular, approach to make the club identity all about the fans. It is vital that all clubs have a strong brand in 2018 as they are constantly marketing themselves against each other in a rapid and competitive digital world. Manchester City and Juventus have simplified their crests in a rebranding exercise which has made them appear progressive.
"Leeds United have removed themselves from everything which symbolised the club. Yes, change is inevitable and progress should be embraced, but you have to be careful not to lose what is at the core of your brand. This new crest says little about Leeds and it tells us nothing about the club. I would go as far as saying it looks threatening and exclusive. It is essentially a generic football crest you would see on an unlicensed football video game or app, and appears to lack any authenticity."
Despite praise from some fans, the crest has been met with a number of negative responses since it was first shared on social media.
Indeed, such has been the backlash, fans have started a petition asking for the decision to be overturned, gaining over 7,500 signatures in the 90 minutes after the new crest was revealed.
Some complained the design was "atrocious" and compared it to an old-fashioned video game graphic, while one Facebook user said it looked "like a school homework project". An online petition was quickly drafted to try and force the club into cancelling the change.
It’s atrocious. All that ‘research’ and that’s the best you can come up with?! It looks like something from Pro Evolution Soccer in the early 2000s. Awful!! — Oliver White (@OliWhiteMOT93) January 24, 2018
It's awful. Did you consult real, long standing fans? Or have a bunch of young marketing people been asked to second guess what we would like to see as our new crest (for the next 100 years?) Please rethink this! — Crash Records (@Crash_Records) January 24, 2018
Can those 10,000 fellas turn their location on? I just want to talk — ً (@naitology) January 24, 2018
At last! An emblem encapsulating the way I and other dads my age drive with the window down during the summer months #lufc badge pic.twitter.com/LMyFGbMb9t — Mat Kendrick (@MatKendrick) January 24, 2018
Definitely looks like some sort of fascist salute— Simon Dale (@simoncdale) January 24, 2018
MARCHING ON TOGETHER! https://t.co/TO9K0nALlD
That's awful. Looks like something a fictional football club would wear! — Streatham Rovers FC (@StreathamRovers) January 24, 2018
Leeds are 10th in the Championship table after 28 matches, three points outside the playoff places.