Fans launch new alternative Newcastle shirt and branding after legal action by Mike Ashley
This summer an alternative Newcastle shirt was launched by supporters, as an alternative to the official Newcastle United one.
Going under the title of ‘The Magpie Brand’, the initial run of shirts sold out in under two hours.
With it primarily aimed at fans who wanted to wear a shirt without the W**** branding and/or didn’t want to give more cash to Mike Ashley.
However, after legal action by the Newcastle United owner, further sales of that particular shirt were nipped in the bud.
Wednesday night though has brought news that the fans’ Newcastle shirt is being relaunched with a slight difference, whilst the branding is also being changed from ‘Magpie Brand’ to ‘Newcastle Fans Brand’.
Here is the news release that has been published by the people behind the shirt.
NEWS RELEASE from NEWCASTLE FANS BRAND
Defiant fans rebrand as Ashley gets shirty over Magpies’ trademark
Toon fans’ alternative shirt sales to continue despite threat of legal action
A defiant Newcastle United fans’ collective has today pledged to continue selling their alternative Newcastle shirt under a new brand name – The Newcastle Fans Brand – in spite of legal threats by the club’s owner, Mike Ashley, over copyright and trademark issues.
Following the runaway success of the late July launch of their “anti-Wonga and Mike Ashley-free” alternative Newcastle shirt, the small fans’ collective – which had been trading as The Magpie Brand – found themselves facing threats of legal action by Mike Ashley’s lawyers.
On hearing about the fans’ alternative shirt, Mike Ashley engaged a Intellectual Property lawyers firm to warn off the fans behind The Magpie Brand, claiming they were violating the Club’s registered ‘Magpie’ trademarks by depicting a magpie on their alternative shirt and using the word ‘magpie’ in their trading name.
The club were also concerned that The Magpie Brand’s alternative shirt could be construed as ‘passing off’ as official Newcastle United merchandise.
A spokesperson for The Magpie Brand said:
Clearly, we had no intention of misleading fans or posing as an official Newcastle United product. The fact is our shirt exists for precisely the opposite reason: we don’t want our club associated with a legal loan shark or Sportsdirect.com.
We just want to reclaim the black and white stripes for the fans. And the fact that our first batch sold out in little over an hour proves that thousands of other Toon fans feel the same way.
But it’s a real shame Mike Ashley felt it necessary to bully us like this. Perhaps the popularity of our shirt – and the fact it is sold at cost price – got him panicking about his own profits?
However, the fact remains that, as a not-for-profit initiative by ordinary Newcastle supporters, having sought pro bono legal advice from intellectual property experts we were faced with the stark choice: disband The Magpie Brand or re-brand and re-design our shirt.
So we’re proud to announce today that The Magpie Brand will now be known as Newcastle Fans Brand, and our shirt as the Newcastle Fans Shirt.
We will shortly start selling the Newcastle Fans Shirt to the large number of people who have registered an interest, by order of registration date. New registrations can be made via www.newcastlefansbrand.co.uk now.
After some thought we decided that an alternative badge with the significance of the magpie could not be added without risking a similar response from the club, and so the rebranded shirt will simply feature the city crest from the city of Newcastle upon Tyne coat of arms.
We’re disappointed about the forced removal of the magpie, but we can think of no stronger bond than between our club and the city, depicted by the city crest on a clean black and white shirt free of questionable sponsors. This remains a suitable protest against Newcastle United’s current regime.
We believe the future is bright for our Newcastle Fans Shirt.
The incredible number of shirts already sold and reservations made in a little over a month have convinced us that we can up the ante and eventually offer Newcastle fans a fully bespoke Newcastle Fans Shirt that is even cleaner and more stylish.
We already have over 3,300 reserved orders from fans around the world. This level of demand for an alternative shirt is even bigger than we had anticipated and it’s ultimately what made us all so determined that this fans’ initiative should and must continue. We hope fans will understand the delay in sending out this batch following the threat of legal action.
We can’t pretend that we aren’t saddened by the treatment we’ve received from the club.
It is a sign of the hollow shell that Newcastle United has become that the club will threaten its own supporters with legal action, even at a time when it claims to be making an effort to improve relations with fans.
We believe that this demonstrates the new direction is largely opportunistic in the face of fan protests last season, rather than a fundamental change of attitude.
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