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The name and logo of the A-League’s newest club was unveiled yesterday, with Melbourne Heart FC confirmed as the franchise’s name after much speculation and debate. But it was the striking red and white logo that captured much of the attention.
The logo certainly stands out when compared with other A-League clubs, and it confirmed that Heart will have red and white branding – a good contrast to the Melbourne Victory’s.
“We didn’t want to have a soft love heart logo,” said CEO Scott Munn. Rather, the “shield style logo will better resonate with football purists,” he continued.
While a strip hasn’t been released as yet, Munn confirmed that a red and white stripe design was the probable look the Heart will go with – sticking with football traditions.
Munn also reaffirmed the club’s desire to play exclusively at the new rectangular stadium on Olympic Boulevard in inner Melbourne.
“We have a preference to play every game there and that would be a point of difference between us and the Victory, who it seems will still be playing some games at Etihad,” he said.
Yesterday’s announcement also reignited the speculation surrounding a possible playing return for Mark Viduka, the former Socceroo who hasn’t played competitively since going his separate ways with Newcastle United.
Encouragingly, Munn confirmed that the club has been in constant discussions with Viduka.
“We’ve met with Mark and he’s been a fantastic resource; very open about sharing his knowledge of a how a football club should operate. Even if he doesn’t sign with us to play, he could still have a role at the club,” he said.
From my chat with Munn, there were two further points that were pleasing to hear.
Firstly, Munn stating: “We want to grow the overall pie of football fans in Melbourne rather than take Victory fans.”
This is a necessity – not just for the Heart but the A-League and football as a whole.
With Heart’s debut, the ‘one club per town’ A-League era comes to an end – giving the competition a proper derby, and also testing the codes ability to expand its fanbase.
Unlike the Sydney Rovers – who have the geographical differentiation option available to them, with well-populated football communities in the western suburbs of Sydney that can be tapped into – the Heart will have little differentiating themselves from the Victory.
Considering the Victory’s popularity and strong crowd figures, not to mention Heart’s debut coming off the back of the World Cup, all eyes in Version 6 of the A-League will be on how the arrival of the debutants impacts on crowds for the two clubs – particularly at the new stadium.
And as Munn hinted, the club’s determination to play all its home games in the new stadium could well be a huge trump card in their favour – especially considering how eager Victorian football fans are to get away from Etihad.
Rather than stealing fans from the Victory, Heart could well be borrowing them every second week, with the distinct possibility that Melbournians will show up to the home games of both sides.
As the club grows with time, points of differentiation will undoubtedly increase, splintering the supporter base.
The second encouraging point from Munn was confirming that the club would drive harder in terms of publicity and community development programs.
As I wrote on Monday, Heart appeared to be stagnating in terms of generating much traction, but Munn stressed the club has been working diligently and will be unveiling more to the public once this current A-League season is completed, particularly the strip and identity of its signings – currently standing at ten players.
Make no mistake, setting up shop alongside the most successful A-League club, in a city they’ve owned exclusively for five seasons, without a significant point of differentiation makes the Heart’s task incredibly difficult.
But the new rectangular stadium and Mark Viduka playing for them would significantly bolster the club’s profile and identity – an identity that we can finally link with a definitive name and logo.