Critics have pushed back against an article purporting the ships on the crests of Manchester City and Manchester United represent the slave trade.
An article published in The Guardian claimed that the ships shown on the respective badges have ‘nothing to do with football’ and instead had their ties with how the city made its money in the 19th century.
The city’s coat of arms carries the image of a ship, as seen carved into the town hall, with the city council crest having a ship in a similar place to Manchester’s two major professional clubs. Mail Sport has contracted both clubs for comment.
Simon Hattenstone, the journalist who wrote the article that sparked the debate, asked whether it was time for the city to replace the emblem of the ship with the bee, made famous in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017.
Pushing back against the suggestions, a series of figures connected to the city had their thoughts published in The Sun arguing that the ships did not in fact carry slavery connotations.
Manchester United and Man City have long had ships featured in their club badges
Campaigners and activists have called for the city’s two major clubs to remove the ship from their respective crests which feature on the front of the clubs’ match shirts
Suggestions have been pushed back against by various individuals from the city and beyond
Fans from the two clubs rejected the suggestions, with a City supporter likening the article to people blaming the Italians for the ills of the Roman Empire.
‘You can’t keep on going back,’ he said. ‘It’d be like being mad at the Italians for the Roman Empire.’
A United fan named Joe Burazin told people to ‘keep their hands off’ amid calls for the crests to be altered.
The newspaper carried quotes from the Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton, Graham Stringer, who pushed back against the claims made vociferously.
‘Manchester had nothing to do with the slave trade,’ he said. ‘People from the city at the time of the US Civil War in 1861 protested against slavery. This is one of the craziest campaigns I have ever seen.’
Showing cross-party dismay for the suggestions published in The Guardian, Conservative MP for Wythenshawe Katherine Fletcher said people from Manchester are some of the most ‘welcoming’ in the world, suggesting the ships could not symbolise such.
Echoing the sentiments, United historian JP O’Neill, said: ‘His (Hattenstone) ‘logic’ is as ridiculous as it is contradictory.
‘Not only did the club badges long post-date the abolition of slavery, the clubs themselves were only founded decades after slavery was ended.
‘The first ship to arrive in Manchester came in 1894 with the opening of the Ship Canal.
‘In Manchester, cotton workers during the American Civil War refused to work with slave-picked cotton, putting their livelihoods at risk.’
The article comes at a time when organisations of all types are under increasing scrutiny over their historical links to things such as the slave trade.
The Washington Commanders recently became known as such having been encouraged by activists to change their name from the Washington Redskins.
The coat of arms on the Manchester town hall carries a ship – as seen on the clubs’ crests
History of the Man United badge
The ship was introduced to the Manchester United badge when the club changed its name from Newton Heath in 1902.
The first crest took inspiration from the design of the city’s heraldic symbol and featured the same Latin inscription ‘Concilio Et Labore’ – loosely translated as ‘wisdom and effort’.
The ‘ship under sail proper’ which also featured on the city’s crest was also adopted to represent its history as a global trading power during the Industrial revolution.
That is above three diagonal yellow stripes which represent the three rivers – the Irwell, Irk and Medlock – which flow through and around the city.
The familiar club logo we recognise today came into being in the early 1960s. Much of the heraldry was stripped away but the merchant ship and the three stripes remained, flanked by the red rose of Lancashire.
In 1970, the rose was replaced by two footballs and in 1973 a red devil – inspired by the club’s nickname – replaced the three stripes below the ship.
A redesign in 1998 removed the words ‘Football Club’ to leave just ‘Manchester United’ at top and bottom and a red background was placed behind the golden ship.
Manchester City’s crest has a ship above the Lancashire rose – as seen on boss Pep Guardiola
Andy Burnham, the city’s mayor, has suggested the bumble bee symbol more indicative of Manchester and its people
The bee symbol came to prominence in the aftermath of the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017
The Guardian themselves last month admitted to having links to the slave trade, with their founder John Edward Taylor, having partnerships with companies that imported cotton picked by enslaved people.
Andy Burnham is quoted in that particular newspaper as appearing to offer his support to the bee becoming the dominant symbol of the city in the future, but stopping short of calling for the ships to be altogether abolished.
‘It’s not for me to mess with the badges of our clubs, nor the crest of the council,’ he said. ‘But it is my job to help build a positive, shared, modern Greater Manchester identity and that is what I hope the Bee Network will do.
‘The bee is a symbol of a place where people work for each other and no one is more important than anyone else. This is how we roll.’
Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-11992523/Man-City-Man-United-fans-push-against-campaign-ships-removed-crests.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490&rand=1270