Though not as heavily mediated as the clubs playing in the Premier League, the non-league clubs in England are equally important for fans of the sport. One of these clubs is Wembley FC, also called ‘The Lions’ and based in Wembley, in the London Borough of Brent, London.
At the moment, they play in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division, the ninth tier of English football, but their future is uncertain due to some financial issues. Brian Gumm, the chairman of the semi-professional team has recently stated the club may be bankrupted as a result of a dispute with the Football Association over the club’s logo.
It all started when English football’s governing body had complained to the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) that Wembley FC’s badge might be confused with Wembley National Stadium Ltd, a subsidiary of the Football Association, and asked for action to be taken to enforce their intellectual property.
As it turns out, the Wembley Stadium trademarked their logo with the European Union back in June 2009. Wembley FC, on the other hand, registered their logo only in September 2012 when the club updated their badge after signing a sponsorship deal with Budweiser. For those who don’t know, their current crest has a lion’s head on a shield beneath the word Wembley.
This summer, the European Union ruled in favour of the Football Association mentioning that, despite the visual differences in the logos, the use of the word Wembley might still lead to confusion, and issued a decision to cancel the Club’s trademark.
The July ruling means that the London-based football club is no longer allowed to use their current logo. Moreover, they would have to choose a new one and change it through the whole club, which implies high costs for the club.
After the European Union’s decision was made known, Brian Gumm stated, ‘We can’t even afford to put in an appeal. It will bankrupt the club because we can’t afford to change all our signage and kit.’
Nonetheless, the club already filed an appeal against the cancellation request at the European registry, arguing that loyal football fans will be able to immediately recognise the club’s logo, just as people in general will recognise the Stadium’s logo. An online petition that gathered no less than 13,000 signatures was set up by fans asking the FA not to force the club to drop Wembley from their name.