MONTREAL — Those who tattooed the Montreal Impact logo on their bodies will now have to consider whether they want to add the team’s new brand for consistency, as the team announced it will now be going by Club de Foot Montreal (CF MTL) for the upcoming season.
The Major League Soccer team announced its new brand Thursday after months of rumours that it was rebranding.
“Football is more established than ever in Montreal, and its history, which dates to the late 1800s, continues to evolve with this announcement. We wanted to connect our identity even more strongly to that of our city. We were inspired by Montréal and its supporters to create this local Montreal brand image, made by Montrealers, to state that we are here to stay”, said club co-creative Justin Kingsley.
A range of groups from Parti Quebecois politicians to the club’s Ultra fans reacted in December to reports that the team would change its name to Montreal FC. PQ leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon voiced his appreciation of the new name on social media Thursday.
La décision de l’Impact de finalement opter non pas pour Montreal Football Club mais bien @clubdefootmtl doit être saluée. J’étais intervenu à ce sujet avant les fêtes, je constate qu’il s’agit d’une belle sensibilité au caractère francophone de Montréal!
Allez le CF Montréal! pic.twitter.com/rGPzmmY9GQ
— Paul St-Pierre Plamondon (@PaulPlamondon) January 14, 2021
New team president Kevin Gilmore has pushed for modernization. He has said before that the Impact should behave like the big-market soccer clubs — the type of clubs that often have much simpler names.
During a news conference Thursday, Gilmore explained how the new name works in both languages.
“It’s common practice in Montreal for people in French to refer to the sport as foot. ‘On va jouer au foot. On regarde le foot.'” said Gilmore. “Anglophones, sometimes, often refer to it as ‘footy.’ So let’s assume that. Let’s assume that as part of our name.”
The Montreal Impact Ultras launched a petition to halt any talk of a name change and garnered over 2,000 online signatures on change.org.
The supporters’ association said the 28-year history of the name dates back to Montreal’s North American Soccer League days.
“During this time the name has become loved by the Impact fans and is an important part of our identity,” reads a statement from the association. “The Association des Supporters does not see any justification for changing our beloved name especially as a marketing decision taken without the consultation of the most important element of the club, its fans!”
Owner Joey Saputo addressed fans directly Thursday.
“I understand how you feel. I love the Impact,” he said. “But the reality is this: to make an impact, we need to retire the Impact.”
Montreal is the 10th MLS team to rebrand since the league’s inception in 1996.
FANS REACTION MIXED
In addition to Montreal’s Ultras, fans reacted with mixed emotions to the rebranding.
“Montreal went from Impact to Club Feet?” wrote one Twitter user. “This rebrand is an upgrade?”
Club de Foot?
Couldn’t go with Club de Football?
Don’t care if that’s bad french, all I can think of now is this is Clubbed Foot Montreal, and that’s not really great.#CFMTL
“Montreal Impact rebrand, changing their name to Club De Foot Montréal” https://t.co/YIRl1mlqFV
— Tyler (@MiklaTyler) January 14, 2021
Some social media users pointed to the new snowflake logo’s striking similarity to the City of Bloomington, Indiana’s logo.
Gilmore knew the reaction would be strong, and said the organization wanted the rebrand to connect the team more to the city.
“We knew that the reaction would be mixed and there would be a lot of people who don’t like it,” he said. “You will have more detractors on social media speaking about than those that like the name.”
Montreal Impact changing their name to Club De Foot Montreal is a great rebrand
— El Duderino (@thomastittley) January 14, 2021
LISTEN: What inspired our soccer team to be renamed Club de Foot Montréal? Kevin Gilmore, President of Club de Foot Montréal, on CJAD 800 Radio