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Bid to force United and City to axe logos because of 'links to slavery' branded as 'crazy'


Manchester United flags

Rebranding the badges would cost millions of pounds say experts (Image: Getty Images)

Calls for leading football clubs Manchester United and Manchester City to changes their badges because of alleged links to slavery have been branded as “crazy”.

Labour MP Graham Stringer said the bid to remove historic ships from their motifs because of potential links to the slave trade was “one of the craziest campaigns I have ever seen”.

The Premier League giants each feature the ships on their club logos, but anti-discrimination campaigners have called for potential links between the logos and the city benefiting from slavery to be investigated.

After the issue was raised by the Guardian newspaper, Manchester poet Lemn Sissay suggested the city “needed to know if the ships represent slavery”.

And Ged Grebby, chief executive of Show Racism the Red Card, said he welcomed a debate around what the symbols represent.

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Manchester City stadium

Manchester City’s emblem is proudly shown at the Etihad Stadium (Image: Getty Images)

However, Mr Stringer, MP for Blackley and Broughton in Manchester, insisted that the city had nothing to do with the slave trade and that the campaign tarnished its proud history of anti-discrimination.

He told the Telegraph: “Manchester had nothing to do with the slave trade.

“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.”

Suggestions that the ship image should be removed were raised in an article in the Guardian with its commentator Simon Hattenstone questioning whether it was a symbol of “crime against humanity”.

Graham Stringer

Labour MP Graham Stringer branded moves to remove the ships from the badges of both clubs as ‘crazy’ (Image: Getty Images)

He alleged that the area’s cotton mills thrived as a result of the crop picked by US slaves.

The Guardian recently apologised for what it considered to be its own links to the slave trade.

However, local experts said ­Lancashire mill workers at the time refused on principle to deal with cotton picked by slaves.

United and City declined to comment, although a source close to the clubs told the Telegraph that there were no plans to review the logos.

Branding experts said any redesign of the badges would cost the clubs millions of pounds.

United historian JP O’Neill, who authored Red Rebels: United and the FC Revolution, said of Hattenstone: “His logic is as ridiculous as it is contradictory.”

He told The Sun: “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.”

Tory MP Katherine Fletcher, who is from Wythenshawe and a United season-ticket holder, added: “I’ve always seen the ship logo as a symbol of our industrial trading heritage.

“Manchester people are some of the most even-handed and welcoming in the world.”

Manchester United flag

The historic ship is featured on the Manchester United crest (Image: Getty Images)

It is claimed that the ships derive from Manchester’s coat of arms, which was adopted in 1842, 35 years after the slave trade was outlawed in the British Empire.

Manchester City was not established in its current form until 1894 while United switched from Newton Heath in 1902.

Fans at the stadiums told The Sun that the campaign was ‘ridiculous’.

Pilot Mike Goldstein, 57, who has attended City matches since the age of eight, said: “It’s just woke nonsense. You can’t keep on going back.

“It’d be like being mad at the Italians for the Roman Empire.”

United fan Peter Shaw, 34, said: “It’s ridiculous to remove it. It’s celebrating the Ship Canal and nothing to do with the slave trade.”

Fans also vented their feelings online with one tweeting: “It’s a picture of a ship not a ‘slave’ ship. Why do you lot continually try and find offence when none is there?”

Another added: “Economic issues, plenty of deaths by knives and machetes… and people actually has the time to DEMAND clubs to change their crests? Lunacy.”

The Guardian revealed last month that its founder John Edward Taylor had partnered with companies that im­ported cotton picked by slaves. At least nine of his 11 financial backers also had links to slavery.



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