SAINTS have slapped down suggestions a new club badge could erode their historic identity as St Helens RLFC.

Some supporters have been left hot under the collar after it emerged the club’s official title is absent from the 2011 playing shirt.

Instead it includes a new shield-shaped logo featuring a red-vee and a title Saints RL.

This has led to a group of concerned supporters raising fears on internet messageboards - and in emails sent to the Star - that the club wants to dissociate itself from the town’s name.

However, speaking to the Star, Saints chief executive Tony Colquitt – who rebuffed similar claims when the badge was unveiled in summer – said: “It’s a badge not a name change – end of chapter. We have never and never will change the name of the club.

“We won’t be Saints RL, St Helens Saints or anything like that. We are St Helens Rugby League Club and always will be.”

As well as being the team’s nickname, Saints is a colloquialism widely used by the public of St Helens to refer to the town’s great sporting club.

Indeed, rarely does your Star’s pages refer to the club by their official title, such is the team’s roots in the town’s vernacular.

But a section of supporters fear it is important St Helens remains on the shirt because it is by the town’s name that the club is known outside the borough’s boundaries.

It is a sensitive issue, particularly given that Saints will be playing their home games in Widnes – the first time in 120 years they have not been based in St Helens – as they await the construction of their new Peasley Cross home.

Colquitt, a former marketing boss with Gillette, insisted the new badge is purely about giving Saints a fresh logo.

He says that over the years the club has probably been using more different logos “than any other organisation you can think of”.

He added: “We’ve had the SH, the Saints swoosh, the stick man – to name a few.”

Colquitt believes the new badge’s bold use of the red vee, their Saints nickname and RL - to define the sport the team plays - will help the club as they push forward to a new stadium in autumn 2011.

He thinks the new badge will help grab back the Saints image that some of the country’s other sporting teams have cottoned on to.

And he adds that “unashamedly” Saints would seek to appeal beyond “their traditional heartlands” and that branding and marketing helps that goal.

But he reaffirmed that St Helens will remain the correct sporting title, particularly in written media and any official reference to the club.