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How The FA found inspiration from the 1100’s for its iconic Crest

How The FA found inspiration from the 1100’s for its iconic Crest

The FA has updated its iconic ‘Three Lions’ Crest as the governing body of English Football aims to achieve greater standout in today’s digital environment. But can the brand hold onto its long-standing heritage that dates back to Henry II?

The Crest, a visual identity of the FA and England teams, has a new design that takes inspiration from the 1948/49 Crest.

The iconic ‘Three Lions’ concept has been refreshed to give greater visual standout and includes a more authentic-looking Tudor roses and new colour scheme for the England Crest. A lighter blue colour aims to enhance its on-shirt presence.

Jonathan Hill, group commercial director at The FA, said, “The new designs have been modernised for today’s digital world, whilst ensuring that they reflect the rich heritage and traditions of the Crest, particularly the 1948/49 version.” 

The design draws directly from the significant heritage the Crest embodies – namely the College of Arms version commissioned by the FA in 1948.

The new Crest marks the first time in seven years that governing body has changed the Crest.

In doing so, extensive research was conducted by The FA with different groups before the design changes were undertaken.

The aim was to establish what ‘The FA’ and ‘England’ represent in people’s lives, and to gain a greater insight into the sense of national identity the ‘Three Lions’ can deliver.

The single-lion emblem was first adopted by Henry II when he became King of England in 1154. It was added to by Richard I (The Lionheart) who added a second, add then third lion by the end of his reign in 1199.

However, it was not until 1872, nine years after The FA was established, that the Crest featured in an England game, adorning the payer shirts’ in the world’s first international match, between England and Scotland in Glasgow.

The story of Three Lions Crest


When Henry II ascended the throne of England in 1154 he became the first King to adopt a lion as his badge – imported from the House of Normandy, following the Norman Conquest. His single-lion emblem was added to by his successor Richard I (The Lion-heart), who added a second and then third lion by the end of his reign (1199). Thus the ‘Three Lions’ Crest
was born.


When Henry Tudor (Henry VII) was crowned at the Battle of Bosworth after defeating Richard III, it signalled the end of the Wars of the Roses between the Houses of Lancaster and York. Henry’s subsequent marriage to Elizabeth of York united the two houses – and their red and white rose insignias. The Tudor Rose was born – and introduced into the Royal Coat of Arms


The FA was established in 1863, but the first reference to a Three Lions-based badge came in 1872, when the Crest adorned the England shirts in the world’s first international match – a 0-0 draw between Scotland and England, played in Glasgow.


Some amends to the shape of the badge and the lions themselves were made during this period. It remained solely an England badge – there was no separate FA Crest. Still the Tudor Rose did not appear, but the badge continued to be surmounted by a red and blue crown as a link to the Crest’s royal origins.


An official FA Coat of Arms was granted by the College of Arms during this season. It was at this point that the 10 Tudor roses were introduced, denoting the 10 divisions of FA member clubs, which still exist today. The crown was removed to differentiate the Crest from that of the England cricket team.


The Crest granted by the College of Arms was common to both The FA and England, although the England team shirts recorded the name of the opposition below the Crest. During this period, light blue was introduced as the colour of the lions on the FA badge, whilst the England Crest remained dark blue.


In 1998, The FA and England identities were re-designed to provide clear differentiation.
The lions and roses became more stylised, and the colour of the roses was changed to a solid red.  ‘The Football Association’ was in clear space below the Crest, whilst the word ‘England’ sat in a solid panel above it.


The 2002 evolution established The FA as the ‘lead brand’, with other brands falling under its aegis, including that of the England team. ‘The FA’ abbreviation, as opposed to ‘The Football Association’, now moved to a panel above the Crest, and both Crests became a uniform dark blue.

The England senior team will wear the Crest for the first time on the 28 March in the match against Slovakia at Wembley Stadium.

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