I’ve sat on this one for a while to see if my opinion would change. It hasn’t.
The decision to switch from the Montréal Impact to the Club de foot Montréal is really dumb.
The name is dumb. I understand what they’re trying to do and make the team name reflect what you’d see with a European football team, but there wasn’t a single person who didn’t care about the Impact before that will care now that it’s called CF Montréal.
The logo also looks dumb. To me, it looks like something you’d see sewn the shoulder of a copycat Canada Goose jacket. Normally I’m a fan of black and blue together but I find the colour scheme dull. The logo just looks boring. Maybe it’s lost on me because apparently some people see a maple leaf in the middle of it, but I don’t see it (and I’m really, really good at Where’s Waldo).
However, the main reason why this is dumb is because changing the name of a team to change its image is the ultimate sign of panic. For those who are reading this who don’t live in Montréal, nobody in the city felt that the Impact had an image problem. In fact, those who were familiar with the team felt quite positive about it. I know a few people who thought that the old logo wasn’t the best, but it certainly was not an embarrassment. Nobody ever blamed the team name for a lack of success.
A few years back, when the Toronto Raptors were horrible, people felt that the team needed a shot in the arm. There was legitimate discussion that had serious airtime on Toronto sports radio that called for the Raptors to change their name to the Toronto Huskies. This is because the Huskies embodied the spirit of the original Toronto NBA team while the Raptors had a hokey name based off a movie from the 90s. Thankfully, Raptors management decided that was a crappy idea and instead got Kawhi Leonard, which I think was the right choice. Also, it stands to mention that the Toronto Huskies only played one loss-ridden season in the NBA before disbanding.
Changing the name will not fix the problem with the team underperforming on the field. Part of the problem with sports in Montréal is that our city only supports winners. Ask the Alouettes who can’t seem to give away tickets with a losing team only a few years after having a team that needed to expand their stadium because everyone wanted to see them win. Even the Canadiens, who you would think would never experience this problem, need to win to keep selling out their arena. I would talk about the Expos to further support my argument, but as a former season ticket holder, that’s too painful a subject.
Also, something the owners of the Impact/CF Montréal should have considered was their loyal fanbase. When the news came out, many fans were not happy. Some of the supporter clubs, the ultimate diehards, were very vocal about the change. One group even launched a petition which has seen some considerable support. There’s also this article here only because I thought the Happy Gilmore reference was cute. If part of the reason you’re changing your name and look is to bring in more fans, why would you want to alienate your most loyal ones; the ones that are not only buy tickets but are also buying the lion’s share of the merchandise. Is it worth gambling your current fanbase for one that might not even be there?
Major League Soccer is the fifth most popular sports league in North America (total revenue is roughly one-eighth of that of the NHL, which ranks fourth), but if you were to include European soccer leagues in the mix, they would drop down this list considerably. Even if the name was the problem, the fact that the Impact/CF Montréal play in Major League Soccer is part of the image problem. We, as Montréalers have a source of pride for our teams, but those who love the beautiful game are invested in bigger leagues with flashier teams. The only solution that the owners of the Montréal soccer could do would be to rename their team Arsenal and maybe they might generate more buzz.
Header image source: IMFC Pre Game Montreal Impact Columbus Crew 2012-07-08.jpg – Wikimedia Commons
The image resolution was reduced from the original.