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'Closing in on half a million pound at least to do a brand change'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Getty Images)

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Exeter owner Tony Rowe has revealed it will cost the club around £500,000 to undergo the brand change of its existing Chiefs logo at the end of this season. The Chiefs have been under pressure in recent years to stop using their current imagery due to its depiction of a Native American Indian and having researched the issue, they have now adopted a new theme that will come into effect on July 1.  

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The Gallagher Premiership club will rebrand themselves in line with the Celtic Iron Age Dumnonii Tribe, which encompassed an area covering Devon, Cornwall and parts of Somerset for centuries before the Roman occupation from 43AD, and will also retain the ‘Chiefs’ name. 

Rebranding will be a costly exercise for Exeter, however. I’m guessing at the moment because we still haven’t had all the stuff back, but it is going to be closing on half a million pound at least to do a brand change,” explained long-time club owner Rowe, whose Exeter supporters have even been requested at some away games in the 2021/22 season not to wear Native American headdress.   

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“We have had to struggle in the last couple of years with covid and to get the money to keep us alive and to keep us here. So it is going to be a big challenge (with rebranding) but we like big challenges at Exeter rugby so we will do it. It won’t be overnight, we will gradually phase out the old image and bring the new imaging in.    

“We have looked into it to try and make sure that the branding that we adopt now is truly a Devon and Exeter branding. What we don’t want is to find ourselves in the situation we are in now, being accused of the appropriation of somebody else’s image and whatever. It was important that we put a lot of research work in before we made a decision. 

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“We have come up with an image that we believe portrays a Devon Chieftan from that (pre-Roman) era and that will take effect from July 1, which is our new year, new season. We will introduce the branding on all our shirts and various Exeter-related Chiefs memorabilia, clothing and anything to do with us.”  

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Rowe felt it was the right time to change even though there was public support telling Exeter not to change. “Two years ago there was a petition, about 7,000 people saying you should change your logo and we also had a petition that raised nearly 10,000 saying don’t change,” he explained. 

“It’s where you sit but the board decided the time was right to change. The title ‘Chiefs’ for the first team of a rugby club has been used in Devon rugby clubs for well over 100 years and we decided back in ’98 we didn’t want to be called Exeter Rugby Club, we wanted to be called something else so we decided to call ourselves Exeter Chiefs and asked a commercial artist to produce a logo. 

“They came up with an Indian chief’s head, but we have decided the time is right to move on and change and so we have done a lot of research and discovered why for over a century rugby clubs have called their first teams ‘Chiefs’.”

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