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Over 61,000 socios vote for return of Atleti’s classic crest; binding vote comes next

The club allowed its members to vote on a provisional measure this past weekend.

Antoine Griezmann at his first Atlético press conference in 2014. Atleti’s historic crest, first introduced in 1947, was replaced with the current crest in 2017.
Photo credit should read JAVIER SORIANO/AFP via Getty Images

Atlético Madrid could revert to its classic shield in the near future — if the results of a preliminary vote conducted last weekend are any indication.

Beginning Friday, the club sent its socios (club members) an email that included a link to a short survey that asked whether “it would be convenient to consider” replacing the current Atlético shield (used since 2017) with the traditional one, first used in 1947.

The results: a total of 61,021 socios voted for the old badge to return.

With 44 percent of club members seemingly in favor of the switch — in addition to numerous current and former players, as well as head coach Diego Simeone — chief executive Miguel Ángel Gil is set to hold a “binding vote” that would see Atlético abandon its six-year-old logo.

In an open letter published Sunday night on the club website, Gil said he would call a board meeting “as soon as possible” to launch the binding vote. He further promised to abide by the results of the second vote and revert to the traditional shield — while “respecting the limitations” of the club’s various sponsorship and licensing deals — if more than 50 percent of socios approve.

“When we decided to create this Social Committee, where different ways of living and feeling our club are represented, we did so with the aim of having a complementary, even alternative, vision to that of those of us who work daily in the company that manages and oversees the club,” Gil wrote. “The idea was to be able to clearly differentiate those aspects of society from those aspects that are specific to the club: feelings, bonds, symbology, values and signs of identity.

“Over the last few years we have made important and risky decisions such as changing the stadium, changing the badge, investing in Academy venues, Atleti franchises outside our territory and now a new sports and leisure city around the stadium, as well as hiring coaches and players to help the team compete at the highest level.”

Atlético socios have railed against the newer logo virtually since its introduction. The club engineered the change — as well as the move away from Estadio Vicente Calderón — without consulting its members, which provoked a visceral reaction and a spike in the long-simmering distrust between Atleti’s fans and Atleti’s shareholders.

To be fair, seeing as the club has not been owned by its members since 1992, Gil and the board did not have to seek socio approval to make changes to the club’s home and its visual identity. Yet, the scale of negative responses to the stadium move and the newer “modern” coat of arms led the club to create the Social Committee mentioned in Gil’s letter.

It looks like said Social Committee has scored its first victory, and the club is further said to be upset with how figures like Koke and Simeone joined the social media campaign in favor of the old badge — but there is respect, even if grudging, for how faithful they were to their feelings.

In the interest of transparency: I am a socio, I voted for the old badge to return, and I’ll do it again. While I may not see eye-to-eye with other socios on everything — for example, I’ve never disliked the new badge, and it’s probably easier on manufacturers — I do agree that there has been an erosion of the club’s identity in recent years.

The Gil family long wanted to move the team away from the Calderón and were never really in danger of not getting their way. Some club members have been frustrated and isolated after learning about unilateral decisions that the board has taken in recent years — such as the 2017 badge, controversial home shirt designs, and the €250 million-plus redevelopment project starting on the land around the Metropolitano.

So it makes sense that when presented with an opportunity, nearly half of the club’s 138,477 members chose to “take back” Atlético’s classic look. We’ll see if the upcoming binding vote brings out even more support — and if it prompts an official change.