Boro name change disappoints council leader

PHIL Wallace’s decision to ‘re-brand’ the club by changing the name from Stevenage Borough to Stevenage FC has saddened council leader Sharon Taylor.

In a radical move that will come into effect from Tuesday, June 1, the name that has defined the club since 1976 will cease to exist.

But while Wallace’s wish to change the identity of the 34-year-old club has finally come to fruition, the issue of the name ‘Borough’ has been on the periphery of the chairman’s agenda since at least May 2007 when he first put the idea forward.

It’s unknown what financial implications will follow as a result of the decision, but changes will have to be made to merchandise and seating at the Lamex Stadium which could run into thousands of pounds.

Cllr Taylor says she is disappointed Wallace has chosen to do away with the ‘symbolic’ link between the town and the club after all the hard work and money that has been provided to Boro over the years by the Council.

“It’s a shame because this change breaks the link between the town and the club and I really just don’t understand why,” said Cllr Taylor.

It’s clear the chairman is eager to send a strong message to teams in League Two and Wallace believes the name ‘Borough’ conjures up images of a small part of a town or city – rather than the powerful brand name of a thriving town.

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But, while this seems disrespectful to the history of both the club and the town itself, Wallace insists it is more important to focus on the future of the club but understands not everyone will agree with his decision while also dismissing suggestions he has fallen out with the Council.

Wallace also told The Comet there will be NO CHANGE to the design of the club badge – with Stevenage Football Club being the only amendment to the crest.

He said: “In every decision that you make not everyone is going to be happy and they’re not always going to agree with it but we think it’s the best thing for the future of this football club.

“I was asked by a radio station whether I have fallen out with the Council and I really don’t know where this has come from.”

Wallace also admitted that he definitely would not have changed the name had Boro not won promotion from the Conference.

Cllr Taylor says that neither she nor anyone else at the council were consulted on the name change before the decision was announced on the club’s website.

“I had heard a whisper about the proposed name change and there has been stuff posted online, but to lose the Borough connection is a great shame,” she added.

Despite her disappointment, Cllr Taylor insists the council will continue to have a good working relationship with Wallace as both parties continue to plan for life in the Football League.

Wallace has called for financial support in improving facilities at the council-owned stadium, which he hopes will lead to the construction of a new North Stand to enhance not only the capacity but also the image of the club.

However, Council funds are limited and any deal allowing work to commence seems some way off at the moment.

“I have a very good working relationship with Phil and we are continuing to hold talks about the development of the club and the town as a whole,” she added.

“We’re still in constructive discussions regarding the maintenance of the stadium, but due to the election, these had to be put on hold.

“Despite the decision to change the name, we remain as supportive as ever to the club and we’re very proud of their achievements on the pitch which was demonstrated by the Council providing the open-top bus parade and an end of season dinner for the players.”

Some members of the Stevenage Borough Supporters Association are also not happy with the switch to Stevenage FC.

Wallace says the club had discussed the new nickname, ‘The Boro’ with the Supporters Association.

However, the Supporters Association say they were not consulted about the change to the official name of the club and they found out at the same time as everybody else when the statement went online on Monday night.

A spokesperson for the SA said: “About three or four years ago, Phil suggested the SA canvas its members for their views regarding a name change of the club.

“From what I recall, I think about two thirds of the membership responded, of which the majority elected to retain the name ‘Borough’.

“It was, effectively, a straw poll, and reflected the opinion at the time.

“There haven’t been any formal discussions with the Supporters Association about any proposed name change, since the straw poll some years ago.”

“The SA’s committee haven’t yet had the opportunity to discuss it formally.

“I do know that some of the committee are strongly opposed to the change due to reasons of history and where this club originally came from, whilst one or two others are somewhat more relaxed about it.

“Judging by the responses on a popular fans forum website, I note that this probably reflects the consensus of our supporters in general.”