Credit - Soccer Bible
Huddersfield Town caused a huge stir at the beginning of the season by sporting a sash boasting a company logo on their newly released shirt.
They wore the horrendous looking design for a friendly against Rochdale, a stunt which drew a fine from the FA. A report by the BBC confirms how they were fined £50,000 and were also warned about their future conduct by an independent regulatory commission.
The Terriers had just dropped out of the Premier League and their new kit was nothing more than a high-profile stunt. The company involved claimed that they were in fact handing football shirts back to the fans, by removing logos and going for more traditional designs.
Since the stunt, The Terriers have dismissed manager Jan Siewert and appointed a new man. A bwin Football article on the West Yorkshire derby between Huddersfield and Leeds explained how they are still in the relegation mire despite a resurgence under former Lincoln City boss Danny Cowley. Whilst their fortunes on the field leave a little to be desired, their kit has drawn plaudits for being minimal and without a garish logo, but is it really a good thing for kit design?
Kit design has undergone a number of innovations, from fabrics to sponsors and the use of third kits and even fourth kits. Far from being simply the colour a team plays in, they’ve become iconic in their own right, with certain teams becoming identifiable by the name on the front of the shirt.
Who can forget the red Hitachi of Liverpool, or Arsenal’s famous JVC shirts? In each instance the logo was as much a part of the imagery as the players. Picture Alan Hansen heading a ball away for Liverpool and instantly Hitachi springs to mind. Far from being a marketing exercise, think of ‘Hitachi’ and what comes to mind? It’s almost certainly going to be Liverpool for a football fan.
Aside from design, is the clamour for a sponsor-free shirt all a charade anyway? The Echo News revealed Southend United joined the ‘save our sponsor’ campaign, but what of the other lower league clubs? For the likes of Accrington, Lincoln and Stevenage a shirt sponsor is a vital income stream but if fans buy into this marketing gimmick, those clubs will face criticism just for exploiting a viable revenue stream.
The big question here is still around identity. Successful seasons are immortalised by the shirt your club wears and more often than not, that shirt boasts a sponsor. Besides, a sponsor can add to the aesthetic of a shirt too. Some shirts, which boast a single colour, can look rather bland, but a tasteful and well-place logo almost completes the picture and caps off a design. It’s as if an accessory has been added to an outfit which makes it attractive and desirable.
Get a sponsor wrong and it can ruin a shirt; the Bleacher Report explain how Scarborough had Black Death Vodka emblazoned across the front of their kit and that certainly wasn’t iconic or desirable.
However, to get rid of shirt sponsors completely not only robs smaller clubs of valuable income, but can also remove one aspect of what makes up the identity of a season or an era and that surely can’t be a good thing.
If you liked this article, make sure you check out our tale of Liverpool’s current kit design conundrum that has recently been settled in the High Court, and as a result Nike will take over the contract to manufacture the Liverpool kit from next season.