Player sales, stadium delays, bold proclamations, rows with fans and other owners. James Pallotta's tenure as Roma's owner was plagued by many controversies, but I'm not sure any of them produced the same level of criticism or vitriol as when Pallotta changed the club’s crest back in 2013, ditching the interlocking ‘ASR’ for the current ‘Roma’ look they've been sporting for nearly a decade now.
Since it's inception in 1927, AS Roma had featured some version of the interlocking ‘ASR’ crest (though it was far from their only look), so when Pallotta made the seemingly spur of the moment decision to change the club's badge, some fans didn't react too kindly, seeing it as yet another example of the club losing it's soul.
On the change, Pallotta pointed towards brand recognition and marketing as the impetus for the change:
AS Roma today, upon completing its 86th year of competition, introduces an updated brand identity system that honors and builds on its rich history, highlights the club’s connection to Rome and modernizes one of the most beloved brands in football and establishes the visual direction for the Club for years to come.
An extensive local market research program was undertaken to evolve and update the celebrated marks of the Club.
The goal: Honor the rich tradition of the Club and Rome, while properly reflecting the Club’s growth domestically and internationally.
The new Roma logo features clean, modern lines along with a contemporary and timeless graphic structure. The logo is designed to reflect the essence of AS Roma – pride, courage, inventiveness, and passion – fundamental values of Roman culture as well.
The City of Rome is the heart and origin of our club. Having ‘Roma’ on our logo and on our players’ chests properly honors this and tells the world who we are.
And so it went. For the next several years, Roma sported the ‘Roma’ crest on some of the most lauded shirts in European football, but there remained a segment of the fanbase who were clamoring for a return to the club's roots; they begged the club to resurrect the ‘ASR’ badge.
And, according to multiple sources, they may have gotten their wish:
After Friedkin's representatives met with members of the Curva Sud, including attorney Lorenzo Contucci, who presented a petition with approximately 12,000 signatures on it, the club are reportedly bringing back the old crest, which will appear on next season's away kits.
In the grand scheme of things, this is really no different than the club using the Lupetto badge intermittently on third kits, but it seems crazy that a mere 12,000 signatures could convince the club to change their branding, even if it's just temporary.
Personally, I'm a huge fan of the ‘Roma’ crest—I think it was arguably the most important change Pallotta made—but one can't help but be somewhat skeptical here. On the surface, this seems like Friedkin is scoring points with the Roma fan base (for no other reason than doing something anti-Pallotta) but this could actually be a stroke of marketing genius. After all, look at how well Roma have done with retro looks the past two seasons: the blue away kits from last year and this season's ice lolly look.
Presuming that Friedkin's overarching goals are the same as Pallotta's—growing the brand internationally—he should stick with the ‘Roma’ badge, but sprinkling in some nostalgia here and there never hurts.
Now, Dan. For my sake, please, please...PLEASE...make a baseball cap with an interlocking ASR. Maybe something akin to this?