As a football fan and a football kit, fan April kicks off a wonderful time of the year. Not only is the season drawing to a climax with hopefully, from a neutral’s point of view, a few twists and turns in the battle for titles, cups, promotions and relegations but its also the time when next season’s kits and being premiered or at least leaked.
Football wise, the end of this season looks to be even thrilling with Chelsea’s magnificent win over Man Utd yesterday blowing the Premier League, if not wide open, but at least partly ajar. All Utd need to do now is keep their nerve. We’ve got two cracking Champions League semis coming, followed hopefully by an all-English final. Rangers may make it to the UEFA Cup final and in the lower English leagues its extremely tight. The Championship sees several major clubs who really do belong in the top flight battling for precious promotion places along with some equally big names at the other end battling relegation.
Plus this summer of course we have Euro 2008 to look forward to!
But for me its the new kits that really make it an exciting time. Although it seems to be slightly out of fashion these days, the last match of the season was always an opportunity to show off the strip for the forthcoming season. The Cup final was always a fine example of this throwing up several anomalies such as the Everton strip premiered in the 1995 final which was the only time the design was sponsored by outgoing sponsors for 94-95, NEC. Danka took over the shirt deal for the 95-96 season itself.
Nowadays, its the internet that provides the outlet for the new strips. Leaked pictures of new strips often appear many months before their official unveiling. Unfortunately some are fakes, either concocted on Photoshop by fans with too much time on their hands, or in some cases put out as red herrings by kit manufacturers to confuse the bootleggers. Either way, football kit devotees such as myself spend everyday at this time of year scanning the web looking for the new designs and being either excited or disappointed by the fare on offer.
This season looks to be no different; already we’ve seen fine new outfits for Chelsea and Liverpool along with news of the continued resurgence of Umbro.
What trends will the new season bring? I’d imagine there will still be plenty of black/navy blue change strips knocking about – a quick and easy fix to the age old away kit design dilemma. I think there may be more switching of traditional shorts colours to create single colour kits – probably in an attempt to work with FIFA’s increasingly strict rules over colour clashes.
We may also see an increase in advertising/logos on English club shirts. Witness Portsmouth/ Canterbury’s introduction of additional branding mid-season on their jerseys. Simple designs and standard templates seem to be coming back in to fashion with some of the more outlandish designs being mothballed with team wearing similar kits to each other, differing only in hue. Plain and simple strips are what football fans prefer – football kit fans however like to see bright and dynamic designs with innovative styling. However, it must be remembered that although kits do provide a valuable source of income for clubs via replica sales, they are there primarily a job uniform. Their sole purpose is really just to differentiate between teams on the pitch (and to some extent on the terraces!) and this doctrine appears to be the method statement for kit designs in 08-09.
By the way, for those of you desperate for the new kits pre-season may I recommend you to two fine sites that are always first on the ball with such news: