The FA Rules on Club Badges That Most Football Fans Don’t Know About

‘It’s your club and your voice matters…’

Back in 2022, Aston Villa declared they were going to create a new crest, and they planned to involve fans in determining the broad strokes of the design. A change of the badge would symbolise the current ownership resetting the fortunes of the club and leading them in a new direction—a chance to symbolically shake off the abject failure of the last decade or so.

The club stated: ‘As part of this process, we’re going to be getting in touch with true claret and blue Villans over the coming months to invite you, the fans, to take part.”

‘An important part of this dialogue will be conversations with our Fans Consultation Group. It’s your club and your voice matters in this review. Together, we will find a way of looking at our best for the future whilst respecting our traditions, achievements and DNA.’

At the time, some Villa supporters commented how good of the club it was to include them in the process. The truth was, they had no choice in the matter.

The Influence of the Fan-led Review

Following the fan-led review of football governance at the end of 2021, the FA updated its rules of association in 2022 to help protect the core heritage assets of football clubs. Under the new rules, if a club wished to make changes to its club crest or change its recognised home shirt colours, it must undertake ‘a thorough and extensive consultation process with supporters’. 

As it turned out, Aston Villa actually had the honour of being the first club to change their crest under the new rules.

Owners come and go, as do their middle management and executives, and in many ways, they are just landlords and custodians for the club. They can leave the club and then disappear into the sunset (or jail), leaving supporters to suffer the consequences of any mismanagement.

The welcomed move from the FA at least gave supporters a stake in protecting the core assets of their clubs.

Aston villa lion design

The FA Rules on Club Crests


No Club shall make any material changes to its Club Crest without first undertaking a thorough and extensive consultation with its supporters.


Clubs seeking to ensure they have undertaken a thorough and extensive consultation with supporters should undertake an independently run supporter poll to give weight to its proposal. The nature of such a poll will depend upon the circumstances of the Club in question but should include taking a poll of (where applicable); members of any Community Benefit Society formed for the benefit of the club’s supporters and registered with the FCA (in many cases, a group of club supporters more commonly referred to as a supporters’ trust will be registered as a Community Benefit Society), season ticket holders, and any supporters who have attended a specific number of home matches in the previous season.

Club Crests form an important part of the identity of a Club and changes can be an emotive issue for some supporters and lead to legitimate concerns being raised.

These Rules apply to any material changes to any aspect of a Club Crest (e.g. changing a colour from blue to red, adding or deleting text, or adding new design features and/or deleting established design features). These Rules are not intended to apply to the types of small changes to a Club Crest which occur more regularly, such as making a colour slightly lighter or darker, or slightly increasing or decreasing the size of a font.

Whilst there may often be a strong case for the modernisation of a Club Crest, given the prominence of a Club’s Crest on kits, promotional material, broadcast and other visual media, it is of vital importance that the views of supporters are given significant weight when deciding to make material changes.

It is noted that some Clubs mark anniversaries by introducing a club crest which draws on previous heritage but differs from that in current use by the Club. Whilst these Rules will still apply in such circumstances, Clubs will be given a greater margin of discretion with regard to a temporary change to a club crest of this nature provided that the change is for a maximum of one playing season.


A Club must be in a position to evidence that the majority of its supporters are in favour of a material change to its Club Crest prior to making any such change.


In assessing whether or not the majority of a Club’s supporters are in favour of a material change to its Club Crest, The Association will give significant weight to the views of members of any Community Benefit Society formed for the benefit of the club’s supporters and registered with the FCA, season ticket holders, and any supporters who have attended a specific number of home matches in the previous season. For the avoidance of doubt, the views of a Club’s wider supporter base and/or membership shall not be disregarded for the purposes of any assessment by The Association.


If a Club makes any material changes to its Club Crest then it shall register the new Club Crest with The Association in the form prescribed by The Association.


The Association shall have the power to instruct a Club to use a previous version of the Club Crest where in the reasonable opinion of The Association a Club has breached any of Rules M4 to M10.

The Current Villa Badge Situation

According to the FA rules, the research and evidence conducted by Villa, through its supporter surveys, votes and consultation provides a mandate for the badge (see above) currently used on the players shirts (it’s certainly already brought an upturn in success).

Regardless of one’s views on the badge or the consultation process, the design was backed by a supporter vote, with 77% of voters supporting it (only 8% voted to retain the previous shield). Additionally, it addressed their main concerns found in the research, all of which would satisfy FA rules.

In addition to featuring the full name ‘Aston Villa,’ a star (although this doesn’t actually future proof the badge), and making the lion more fierce, it addressed supporter concerns about the shield shape and yellow lion, as identified in the club’s publication of the survey results:

‘Only 19% of fans who filled out the survey claimed to like the current shield shape

The lion at the heart of our crest has been a very consistent presence through history, so it is thought of as critical to any future version. However, we heard that it doesn’t stand-out as much as it could; for example, when used in yellow it can appear a little faded-out in some instances. We also heard that it could have more character and fearlessness in how it looks.

‘In terms of the colour balance of the badge, the key wish was to make the lion claret and the badge predominantly claret and blue.’

New, new badge…

After a couple of months in the job, behind the scenes, Villa Business President Chris Heck had decided that the club needed to scrap the new badge and come up with an alternative new badge.

This second chance was cautiously welcomed by some, as news got out, as there was certain flaws in the consultation and research process (we’ll go into more detail elsewhere). Maybe we could flip the lion back, which had been a designer/club decision, or maybe we could come up with a more unique option, an approach encouraged in the first Fan Consultation meeting?

Unfortunately, the opportunity seems to have been passed up.

For the purpose of this article, we are concerned about the FA rules (we’ll get onto the drop shadow later!), but the crest that has been submitted to the Trademarks website is essentially a slight evolvement of the last shield with the same yellow lion and not much in terms of claret.

Chris Heck and Ben Hatton have stated that they have cleared the badge with the FA using the evidence and research already acquired.

How exactly?

The very same evidence that made the club previously declare about the shield design, ‘there is no emotional attachment from supporters to the current crest‘ and ‘does not represent Aston Villa well’. The evidence that clearly showed the majority of the fans wanted a departure from the shield and the yellow lion, and wanted more claret in the colour balance?

How do you go from ‘no universal love’ for the shield crest to hoodwinking the FA, that it’s the will of supporters?

fa rule M8No Club shall make any material changes to its Club Crest without first undertaking a thorough and extensive consultation with its supporters.

While design is subjective, if there was one thing the process had shown, it was supporters had rejected the shield badge and a spot of drop shadow isn’t going to change that.

The latest round badge had a clear majority mandate from supporters, as per the FA rules, this new one does not.

Bar a very general survey, that was issued with the preface of returning to a shield design (that seems to have confirmed nothing new beyond the previous survey), there has been zero supporter consultation or insight.

In fact, the design was filed for trademark before it was presented briefly to the Villa FAB group before Christmas.

Any request during previous meetings to have any involvement in the process – as per FA rules – was rejected by Ben Hatton.

That Heck Interview

When Chris Heck recently finally gave a public interview on the club’s website, he was asked about the crest.

The Birmingham Mail/Live kindly transcribed the interview, and this is his answer on the crest:

Is there an update on the new crest?

“We are working very closely with supporter groups and individuals that are fans. The crest is for the fan. It is worn by the players and it is for the fan. 

“We are passing it over to them to decide what is best. It is going to be great for the club and for the next 150 years.

“The hope is that the crest will be shown to all fans when it will be complete this winter. I expect that to be in a few weeks. I am very excited to see how that goes.

“I will say that the crest will be on the kit come summertime. I think you will find a lot of interesting new aspects to the kit come summer, including maybe the 150th marque.”

There has been ZERO evidence of ‘working very closely with supporter groups…” or “passing it over to them to decide what is best”.

Literally, none of what he has said has happened.

No supporter is asking for any direct influence or say in the crest process. It’s simply a matter of not wanting to listen to disrespectful empty rhetoric and for the FA rules to be followed properly at face value.

Hopefully, the application of these FA rules on crests doesn’t end up as being as poor as the application of VAR.



  1. Spot on… we voted for a round badge not a shield ? I’ll be interested to see what the club does to get this issue resolved… good work from MOMS … a real voice for Villa supporters ✌️✌️

  2. I’m afraid the club is returning to the arrogance towards fans that we experienced before we were relegated to the Championship.
    There are now so many instances of the club taking decisions without the fans and of taking facilities away from the fans at the same time as significantly increasing costs of attending games.
    OK, I understand that success requires revenue, but the combination demonstrates to me that there is a lack of understanding of what is is to be a true football supporter.
    Business is coming first and Chris Heck is the awful face of that!
    I think we supporters will be better off without him!

  3. Heck is managing to escape a lot of criticism due to success on the pitch.
    I am delighted that this article has been written. The writer is not afraid to tell the truth and has ruffled a few feathers.
    Heck out!

  4. I’ve been gritting my teeth through this whole process hoping this was going to be different from the sham consultations that I’ve seen employed in my own job in the public sector. “Consultation is not the same as a referendum” is the phrase often gets used to dismiss concerns. Hate to say it, but the idea of the crest consultation bringing any meaningful input from a supporter is nothing but a facade intended to get sign off. The process may seem fair and balanced, even exciting when supporters are asked to participate, but consider the speed with which that poll came out, and the clear rush to run the process through a small number of discussions with the FCG and you get the picture that ultimately the owners can do whatever they want.. and dont they bloody know it! The crest and the Lower Grounds is a case in point and a huge warning to us Villans. For those in the FCG bold enough to question this, thanks for fighting on our behalf for a bit of integrity.

  5. The club are losing some of the goodwill that Emery and the squad have built up over the past 12 months. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the round design. A slight tweak maybe, especially for the 150th session, but otherwise it’s unfussy and modern with a historical aspect. Everything we’d want surely?

  6. We voted for the round badge. It annoys me that that horrible crest is still being used on the TV & everything else.

  7. Mandate the shape of the badge, write a brief and offer it out to the fan base to provide designs. With the broad range of availability of apps anyone that is remotely tech savvy could create a design. It’s another example of where we are losing off the pitch.

  8. ROUND BADGE!!, if need be turn Lion round.I did not vote for the Heck crest version !!!!

  9. Very bad form from the commercial department! In this matter they are either bullying or behaving idiotically (or both?)

  10. I dont know who the club employs to create our crest but im confident it cant have taken the office janitor more than five minutes. Over the last 18 months or so i have seen some excellent concepts created by actual villa fans. The best shirt design for years was also designed by a fan. It cannot be beyond the abilities of a global football club to invite designs and then conduct a period of elimination to arrive at the fans favourite. Season ticket holders and fans with booking history should decide our crest future NOT a club employee.

  11. There has been no independently led poll or otherwise on the proposed badge, so the general survey is invalid as it was club administrated and contained leading questions on the subject.

    We need several legitimate options (including the present badge) which will be voted on by season ticket holders and fans with booking history.

  12. While Emery ,coaches and players have built up a great relationship with fans where the trust and support is given but it seems the commercial side Heck and Hatton are doing the opposite with the badge, lower grounds and terrace view. Are the owners not seeing this and give clearer direction to those on the day-to-day duties

  13. I thought this was all sorted with the approval of the round badge which is the one I prefer. This seems to be ‘slight of hand’ by Chris Heck. Lets hope the FA see through it and restore the will of the fans. It is worrying that this is happening especially when Emery has built so much trust with supporters.

  14. Absolutely – the new shield v round badge in a vote seems very fair and sensible to me. I think they know what the result would be and plan to carry on regardless

  15. Absolutely agree. How can fans speak against this? I feel really angry actually..the mandate was there for the current design (yes perhaps with tweaks) but Heck comes on and completely misread the room. Additionally, the club could go in to win something this season or push hard for honours. At the time some Villa fan media were glossing over Hecks change of mind and stating things like no one really wanted the round badge…really? The thorough fan consultation hasn’t happened. The new bew badge looks like the cheapest, laziest idea and isnt even going up against the round badge for a vote. Fans saying this doesn’t matter baffle me. This is very important and fans need a clear say in the process. I hope we make our voices known

    • At the very least, you put the latest version of a shield design, that has mostly been associated with failure (hence why the club initially wanted to move on from it), up against the round badge in a vote, to give it a mandate to satisfy the rules.

  16. Great article, people. The new badge-if authentic, is, as the saying goes, ‘a camel is a horse designed by a committee’. Or to paraphrase our intro VP song, ‘everywhere and nowhere baby’.

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