Manchester United are a powerhouse of a football team, world famous and able to attract the best commercial deals along with the stars of the game to play at Old Trafford but I feel like they've gone for money over look.
Take Wrexham AFC, new ownership and they've gone for some big name sponsors. The kit form Macron is perfect, a flash back to an old school look for the home shirt and the green away has links to Philadelphia, Rob McElhenney's home town, taking inspiration from the Philadelphia Eagles and embroidered into the collar 'It's Always Sunny (in Philadelphia)' which is McElhenney's award winning comedy show that started way back in 2005.
Massive sponsorship deals never normally come down to the football league, let alone the conference but it seems as if TikTok and Expedia can see the potential in what could be a huge few seasons for the Red Dragons. Fans have been out in force to buy the new home shirt and the reaction to the away launch has been just as positive. Throw in the more recent launch of the third kit and the feedback again from fans is looking very positive.
I'm not saying that having a big name sponsor on the shirt makes it better but when you look at the new Manchester United shirt it just looks strange. The days of the iconic Sharp, AIG, Vodafone and Chevrolet looks seem a thing of the past with a very basic looking font and simple design, almost as if they are part of the Adidas template and had limited design input.
Do the big design companies worry about designing a unique kit or is it just about getting something out there that fans can buy. I can see from the new United design it's a flashback to a very simple retro type shirt but it doesn't have the same retro feel as Wrexham. And this isn't just a view against United, lots of the tops teams that have kits made by the big 2, Adidas and Nike, seem to have gone for simple and not inspiring.
It’s not just Adidas and Nike that seem to have been a bit more relaxed when designing the kits, and don’t forget, people working within bigger clubs have more of a say in how the kits should look. Most teams will be offered a template design and then add the clubs’ colours with something that may be a bit more unique, lots of the time this produces the same shirts across the footballing world which looks very formulaic, one design fits all.
Puma produced one of the strangest alternative kits in years when the third option was released without have the club badge on it, just the team’s name, and in Manchester City’s case it just said, ‘Man City’. This caused confusion for a Fenerbahçe player, Muhammed Gumuskaya, who scored in the Europa League Conference, went to kiss the badge, and looked a bit embarrassed when he couldn’t find it. Puma have acknowledged this and sent this tweet out to try and help the fans understand their design ideas.
It’s not something that is easy to understand, and Borussia Dortmund fans were more vocal about their dislike for the new design, even though it would just be a cup shirt. Enough that the Puma CEO, Björn Gulden publicly apologised.
“We regret the fans’ anger and would like to apologise to them,” Gulden told dpa. “The fans’ criticism relates to the fact that the BVB logo is merely incorporated into the material tone-on-tone several times, as well as embossed on the chest of the jersey in a larger size, but is just not clearly highlighted as the club crest.”
“We have really taken the feedback to heart and will take it into account for future jerseys – just as we have done in the past.” (BVBBuzz.com)
Macron seem to have hit the nail on the head with this design as Wrexham fan, Thomas Wynne Lewis pointed out ‘this year’s shirts have been excellent. All three are very different and credit to Macron they’ve gone with bespoke designs rather than templates. I think the new third shirt is fantastic. It’s like some of the 90s Wales designs and I love that. 9/10, credit to Macron’
TomiCaws, as he is known on twitter, also thought that bigger clubs aren’t thinking about the original fanbase ‘I think it’s more important for the smaller clubs to treat supporters properly rather than just customers to ensure that they stay loyal to the club. I think top level clubs now cater more for new fans rather than the supporters who watch their side week in week out.’
Not saying that Wrexham or any club have always got it right, Lewis was quick to point out 2 that stuck in his memory for different reasons ‘the ENS shirts from the mid 90s with Wrexham Lager on the front. Stunning shirts and from an iconic era for the club. Vandanel made a horrific shirt for the 2003/04 season which was basically a rip off of the Man Utd shirt of that time. It’s awful, looked like a melted bin bag.’
It’s unfair to single out one club but with everything that has happened behind the scenes at Wrexham in the last 18 months, it’s been a story that some of the biggest companies in the world to stand up and take notice of ‘it probably makes good commercial sense for those firms, given the high profile the club enjoys’ Said Lewis. ‘They know that their firms will be given a lot of exposure on the upcoming documentary’ when asked about TikTok, Expedia and Aviation Gin.
‘I’d always go retro!’ When I asked Lewis what three shirts he would from any club. ‘I do buy Wales shirts and I’ve got a big collection but in terms of clubs I’d probably go for Wrexham Adidas kit 1978, Celtic 1988 centenary shirt and probably a 1980s Barcelona shirt- from the Maradona era.’
Investing a little bit of time and effort into producing something that fans can get behind doesn’t take much, and the more clubs and sportswear companies that get back to giving the fans something to get excited about the better. I may be well off the mark with Manchester United, Manchester City, and other teams’ supporters may be happy with every single shirt that have been produced, it’s always nice to ask that question and place some ownership back into the people who follow the club week in, week out, like has happened at the second oldest professional association football team in the world.