Old (Left) and the New (right) badge of Formartine FC
Old (Left) and the New (right) badge of Formartine FC

Formartine United have finally been granted permission to use the new club badge.

In a statement today, Club Secretary Martin Johnston said, “We are pleased to announce that our Petition for Letters Patent has recently been granted by The Lord Lyon King of Arms and we are now the proud holders of Armorial Bearings at Formartine United Football Club.”

Club Chairman Atholl Cadger added, “The iconic Formartine United Club Badge has stood us well for over 50 years and was widely recognised throughout Scotland and beyond.”

“It has taken us almost two years to get approval for a replacement and we wish to offer our thanks to the staff at the Court of the Lord Lyon and to His Lordship for accommodating the design of our new “Club Badge.”


Despite having been the recognised badge of Formartine United Football Club since around 1960 but since gaining publicity on entering the Highland League a formal complaint about the badge was made to the ‘Lord Lyon’.

Speculation has been that an amateur heraldic researcher or genealogist made a complaint  and  the Court is the Heraldic Authority for Scotland and deals with all matters relating to its heraldry and coats of arms and maintains the Scottish Public Registers of Arms and Genealogies.

A letter sent by Aberdeen’s procurator-fiscal back in October 2010 ordered United to remove the image immediately from the club website and all other material, including our kit. Whilst initially believed to be a prank, it was soon discovered that it was far from a joke and had serious financial implications.

“The club were faced with either completely re-branding at considerable cost, or paying several thousands of pounds to record our badge on the Public Register of Arms or we could have faced prosecution”

Chairman Atholl Cadger said: “This is just a ludicrous situation, and there are ramifications for other sports clubs across Scotland that uses the Saltire and Lion Rampant.” “I can’t believe people would object!”

According to heraldic expert Mark Dennis, who holds the title of Ormond Pursuivant of Arms of the Court of the Lord Lyon, there were numerous examples of people creating their own coats of arms, unaware of the legal implications.

“People like to use heraldic elements because it looks dignified and has status,” he said.  “I’m certain there are quite a few teams, pubs and people who have done this. “Nobody gets particularly upset about it, but it’s just a question of doing it right.”

Mr Dennis said there was no heraldic police squad “snooping around” and Formartine would have been brought to the court’s attention through a complaint. According to Mr Dennis, the problem was not simply through the use of the Lion Rampant or the Saltire on its own, but as heraldic elements on a shield.

“There is nothing wrong with the Lion Rampant or a Saltire,” he said. “It’s the setting. The problems arise when people put things on a shield and its used as a coat of arms. Then there is a tax on it.”

Alexander Green, the procurator-fiscal to the Court of the Lord Lyon, said: “In the past ten years there has been no prosecution in cases like this.”I have dealt with clubs from the SPL down to amateur ranks and they have always been resolved. If we come to the right sort of agreement, then I will allow Formartine to exhaust the stocks of merchandise which they already have.  Just because they have been using the emblem for a certain length of time does not excuse them from the fact they have been breaking the law.”

Formartine did consult with the Lord Lyon through club solicitor and committee member John Adam. The response was that the badge breached a number of areas. United had to concede last summer that changes would have to be made but hoped that they would be minimal in order to ensure a gradual transition and we are now close to a solution.

However, the club will not be permitted to divide the new shield in four parts as before, to display the saltire.  This is a bitter disappointment to the club who have been proud to display their national flag.

Finally, it had at first been thought that the famous Lion Rampant would also have too go, but on closer examination you will observe that the Formartine Lion is winged and therefore technically not a Lion Rampant! So the Lyon has conceded to the Lion.. so to speak, although the blue background must be banished as a condition!

In summary, the shape remains the same along with the ribbons as is, including the French text. The four quarters are gone, along with the saltire and any blue colouring.  The famous stripes remain albeit wider than before, ..and it is most likely that the winged lion shall increase in size and take up a central position on the shield with the stripes in the background.


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