Chavez: For NYCFC to succeed, City Football Group must respect New York City

NYCFC jersey home

Nick Chavez covers NYCFC for Soccer Newsday. He is also an avid supporter of the team 
and one of the brightest local advocates for NYCFC.

by NICK CHAVEZ
Contributing Writer

On Thursday, November 13th, a key milestone and a much anticipated moment in the history of New York City Football Club  occurred; the reveal of NYCFC’s official home kit.

Over a year of waiting was greeted with … well … quite nearly the same shirt that sister club Manchester City Football Club wears.

And right now, I’m thinking pinstripes would’ve been a nice touch.

How important is the club’s identity?  Here is what I wrote for Soccer Newsday in August of last year.  “NYCFC should strive to create a more unique, unaffiliated color scheme as a way of building its own identity. Stepping away from sky blue and (Yankees) pinstripes would be an important, and very visible, step in that process.”

Few things can bring the American soccer community together in opinion, but this “strategic” branding unveiled with Thursday’s jersey reveal has accomplished just that — and not in a good way.

Ferran Soriano, CEO of City Football Group’s collection of international football clubs, said himself last summer, “New York City is going to have its own personality. It’s going to be a team on its own.”  CFG did pretty well staying true to this, up until now.  They hired a New York graphic designer to design a unique crest that had a New York “look” to it (albeit with some sky blue, but at least it has some navy blue and orange).

There is nothing wrong with paying a little homage to the organizations that helped establish you.  But what made CFG think that New Yorkers, expecting the best to represent them being from one of the biggest and most important cities in the world, would be satisfied with their team wearing nearly the exact same home jersey as Manchester City?

Why couldn’t they just change it a bit? Add some orange, or navy blue, or even pin-stripes? Or anything else. At all.  What is the idea here?

This clearly sends the opposite message that Soriano was trying to convince New York soccer fans of for over a year. And to what end? It’s a move that has the danger of turning off future NYCFC fans because they will begin to feel that NYCFC is truly a subsidiary club to Manchester City, and is only meant to be that. Why bother? What made CFG decision-makers think this was a good idea? If the purpose of the club is to be a respected, important, professional soccer team in New York City, one that attracts as many local fans as possible to it — this isn’t the way to achieve that end.

City Football Group needs to understand something. Most NYCFC fans aren’t Manchester City fans. And most New York City-area soccer fans who may still be on the fence about who they will support locally (which is the majority of them) are also not Manchester City fans. The vast majority of English-speaking soccer fans in the City most likely support Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, and Liverpool. The majority of their Spanish-speaking counterparts generally support Real Madrid or FC Barcelona, and perhaps a club from the nation of their heritage.

None of this very large number of soccer fans in the Tri-State area are going to be impressed with their City-owned team looking exactly like Manchester City.

New Yorkers don’t care that they are the Barclays Premier League Champions. New Yorkers want their own, unique and originally New York City-styled club to support.

So, why not give it to them?

Why doesn’t City Football Group become known for bringing strong, competitive football clubs with brands unique and representative to its respective home cities? Wouldn’t this be more effective in engendering affection for CFG’s brand and mission, as well as attract more fans to these sister clubs? Where is the wisdom in making them all look the same, unless NYCFC is meant to only promote Manchester City?

And if that’s the aim, one has to seriously question the business sense and foresight in capitulating the local football club of a soccer-mad, international, iconic city like New York, in a local market of 19 million people, to mainly serve the ends of a recently-christened big club in Mancheser in a market of only 2.5 million (and yes I realize they can have many fans globally, but so can NYCFC if done correctly). Why waste this golden opportunity in New York City, thinking that you’ll, somehow, improve Manchester City’s brand by making its sister club’s wear nearly the exact same jerseys, while disrespecting the wishes of NYCFC’s blossoming fan base in the process?

The thousands within the Third Rail and other NYCFC fans seem unanimously disappointed with having a nearly identical home shirt as Manchester City in their inaugural season. Some even angry. But, to their credit, they’ve tried to be positive about it and have been defiantly declaring their loyalty — even though many feel betrayed. B

ut why even put NYCFC in a position to make its loyal fans feel disappointed and betrayed over something that is entirely within your control?

To be sure, an (unfortunately suspected) Manchester City replica shirt for NYCFC’s first-ever home jersey certainly isn’t the end of the world. Of course, it is a nice looking shirt. But it’s someone else’s nice looking shirt.

City Football Group, the City of New York deserves its own damn home shirt. It might be something to strongly consider for the 2016 season.

  • Anthony

    What’s a matter Chavez, you finally now accepting what we all told you for months? If you thought this wasnt gonna be a MCFC brand clone fromt he start, then you were a sucker.

  • Anthony

    You don’t spend that kind of money to increase your brand’s profile abroad and then dont carry over the brand. This is a Man City farm team, brand extention ploy and FFP work around…that is it…that is what they care about. They dont care about NYC, MLS or growing soccer in the USA…it is all about growing the major MCFC brand to catch up with the RM, BArca, United and Bayerns of the world.

    • OCIU

      FTFY.

      “You don’t spend that kind of money to increase your brand’s profile abroad and then dont carry over the brand. This is a RED BULL farm team, brand extenSion ploy… that is it…that is what they care about. They dont care about NYC, MLS or growing soccer in the USA…it is all about growing the major RED BULL brand to catch up with the COKE, PEPSI, SPRITE, and CANADA DRY’S of the world.”

  • Anthony

    If these alleged thousands of Third Fail people are still being “loyal” to a bunch of snake oil salesmen that is a pretty bad indictment of them as people.

  • Stopher

    Funny that NYCFC fans are just now seeing this club for what it is. The shirt isn’t a problem because NYers aren’t Man City fans. The shirt is their solution for that problem!

  • Dave from Dix Hills

    While your last piece on RBNY gave my eyes cancer, no hate — this is a fair and well rounded piece. Hate to say it but well done.

  • Tony

    It just reaffirms what we all knew, NYCFC is just here to promote it’s mother club (definitely not sister club) and help MCFC get around FFP.

  • Oh only if the Borough Boys kid brothers (third fail) would have listened to us. The shirt is bad, but it’s so much more than just the shirt. Oh well, better luck next time fellas. Better yet, maybe stop and think for 10 seconds.

    • LOL

      The boro brats are cheering in the hempstead. What boro is that in again?

      • Yeah, yeah we are, all the boys of Queens & Nass are very pleased. Bless our owners, I’m so glad we didn’t go to MLS or we would have mindless consumer chaff like you supporting our club.

    • LOL

      How is it going to feel when you clowns lose to a Man City farm team?

      • We’ll beat your farm team like we beat Red Bull, on the field and in the stands. Expect it.

        • The real Stan

          And off the field?

    • Smith

      Why would anyone expect otherwise from NYCFC? They exist (a) solely to promote Man City and (b) The Don couldn’t say no to $100mm.

      Welcome to the real world, Nick. I hope both the Red Bulls and Cosmos crush NYCFC when they face off, respectively in the league and Open Cup.

      • The real Stan

        Us NYRB fans are focused on NE, not MCNY

      • Bronxboy

        Well a) is a bit ridiculous, do you honestly think that Man City or their owners NEED an MLS club in any way. As a proud Third Rail member I can assure that we look forward to kicking your asses too when visiting Jersey or Long Island ;-).

  • haha, For everyone in here rejoicing, keep in mind that a home kit is something that can be easily remedied by the 2016 season. Hell if CFG really wanted to (and were smart enough), they can change them next week. Furthermore, at least one of the away NYCFC kits are supposedly supposed to appeal to New Yorkers. We’ll see what they decide to do. As I said, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s important that CFG hears the voices of disapproval from NYCFC fans.

    Getting out of the American 2nd division, of course, isn’t quite as easy. Maybe one day NASL will be the place to be again, but it certainly shows no indication of being that YET. So keep perspective guys, and thanks for reading!

    • Anthony

      Wow, you really are in denial…you truly think this is just about the kit. Wow, just wow.

      • Smith

        The 2nd kit will be Yankee pinstripes. That’s supposed to appeal to New Yorkers.

        This is Man City USA. I’m not knocking them. They are free to do as they like.

        Just don’t expect it NOT to be Man City USA or Yankee Soccer Club.

        Enjoy it all you like but know it for what it is.

  • julian

    come on guys, it is just a jersey with only same color and sponsor, so i would like to see one of you paying 100 millions to mls just for a permit to play in the league, then spending more big money in marketing, and have sufficient funds to build a maybe 350 or 400 million stadium, and then you can choose any color that you want, nycfc could use another color because that other color maybe was already in another team around the world, sooo get over it and lets enjoy the american socer next season. with nycfc and mls

  • 1nyredbullsfan

    sky blue is a lovely eye shadow on the ladies. but speaking football again, the important thing will be the quality over the diamond. with this in your face kit–showing attitude, eh!–, i expect a stadium de cojones in two years. otherwise, fung getta bout it.

    • Anonymous

      yeah, that’s more to the point, lookinfg forward to the first derby next year

  • Finally the piece & then you make a comment that shows your in complete denial. This chatter has been going since NYCFC was announced, real New Yorkers called it from the start. Nick you just repeated everything we told you about from the start, everything we warned you about,chastised you about,ridiculed you about & all you have is wait till 2016 ? I seriously question your motives here because your either on the payroll or just ignorant.

  • Bronxboy

    Would have been better to not have a near identical shirt but the more important issue is management structure and independence from undue ownership involvement. Man City owners seem to take a fairly light touch so hopefully that will continue here.

    As a Third Rail member who definitely has never been a Man City fan am sure we’ll create our own NY-centric buzz.

    • Smith

      If you wanted a real NYC buzz, u wouldn’t be wearing Man City replica jerseys. The goal is to grow the City brand. The only NYC centric thing you’re gonna get is a Yankee-centric pinstriped road jersey. You know it. I know it. Even Slick Nick The Ridiculic Knows It.

      • Anonymous

        Heres the deal

        No one is saying dont root for team X

        Root for whichever you like

        I go see the Red Bulls who are an ad for an energy drink and i know it

        I also go root for the cosmos who are not THE COSMOS but a bunch of guys wearing a famous retro jersey

        Root for NYCFC if you like but know it is just an ad for man city ok?

        • Anthony M.

          Nice piece. I would say not to be discouraged about the jersey. It’s only a shirt. If the team wins games that’s all that matters. Soccer jersey’s these days are nothing more than money making billboards for teams, thus why corporate logos are bigger than team crests. I wish it wasn’t that way and more like American sports where the team and towns are dominant but I digress.

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