EXETER CHIEFS could have to shell-out up to £1million to ditch their Native American badge which has been slammed as “racist and offensive”.
Long-standing Chiefs owner Tony Rowe has called a board meeting for Wednesday, with the future of their stereotypical American Indian imagery and mascot high on the agenda.
It comes days after NFL team the Washington Redskins dropped their 87-year-old badge and changed their name to Washington Football Team after the three-time Super Bowl winners came under years of pressure from indigenous people and NFL fans.
The Redskins rebrand is expected to cost up to £15million, though Chiefs, who have had their current badge since 1999, can expect to pay just a fraction of that if they eventually decide to retire their badge and ‘Big Chief’ mascot.
And the whole process could take up to as long as 18 months to finalise with shirts for the new season already made and shipped.
A sports marketing expert told SunSport: “Rebranding becomes an iceberg of costs with so many things you don’t see – and £1million is a lot of money for a rugby club.
“There are the obvious things like the new badge and kit to sort, but the deeper you get the more it adds up.
“You’ve got all the legal fees with the new trademarking and protection of the brand – to the costs of removing all the physical signs in and around your stadium.
“And because of the current pandemic, you’re going to struggle to find companies who can change everything quickly at Sandy Park.”
A petition calling on the club to ditch their badge and branding, has attracted more than 3,500 signatures.
They insist that keeping the name is fine as: “Exeter Chiefs could refer to the Celtic Chiefs who inhabited the city and contributed to its rich and diverse history. It is the imagery that must change.”
But across two other petitions there are 5,400 signatures asking to keep the badge as they claim it is not disrespectful to anyone.
All petitions will be discussed by Rowe and his board as they consider their options.
One against change adds: “The usage of the Native American in the Exeter Chiefs logo and brand is to honour and respect their cultural beliefs.
“Exeter Chiefs fans wear their replica shirts and merchandise with pride of their team, and all that goes with it.
“The Chiefs have a huge, dedicated and very loyal following who all do the “chop” with pride.
“We would all love everyone to share our belief and not see it with any offence.”
However, those views are in direct contrast to the Native American groups.
The National Congress of American Indians, the world’s largest indigenous peoples group, are calling on sports teams to:
“Eradicate offensive Native “themed” mascots from sports and popular culture for more than 50 years.
“We are not mascots.”