For a long(ish?) while now, the flair page has said:
What about the old, non image based flair?
The earlier methods of sharing flair are deprecated and will go away eventually. Please use the simpler image flair from this point onward!
Are there still serious plans to remove it? I can understand the desire to have a simpler, image-based flair scheme, but why require it? Is the old system a burden to maintain?
The old system gives me flexibility to not waste space on a generic gravatar image that I don't care about, allowing me to display everything in a nice, compact, horizontal row. For example: