An alternative to alcohol

It is a fact of life that some of life’s more, shall we say, frowned upon pastimes namely alcohol and gambling, are common and important shirt sponsors for clubs throughout the world.

Quite sensibly, recently a return to the 80s rules regarding removing alcohol brands from children’s replica shirts has come into force, but there is currently no general legislation preventing alcohol advertising (including shirt sponsorship) in the UK despite calls from medical experts who have, in the past, successfully banned tobacco advertisements.

This is not the case everywhere in Europe though, with France and some Scandinavian countries banning  advertisements for alcoholic products by law. This has caused some problems through the years for clubs who draw a side  from these countries in European tournaments.

Celtic and Everton have in the past got round the issue by simply removing the logos from their respective sponsors (Carling and Chang Beers respectively) but Newcastle, Liverpool and Rangers have used different solutions.

liverpool-h-96-98-euroAlthough they generally sport plain sponsorless shirts when playing competively in countries that ban alcohol advertising, on one occasion Liverpool and Carlsberg undertook a more creative approach. When forced to remove the Carlsberg logo on their shirts during a pre-season tour of Scandinavia in 1997 the club donned versions emblazoned with “Probably…” – the first word from Carlsberg’s famous strapline “Probably the best lager in the world”. Carlsberg, it seemed, did not want to miss the opportunity to promote their beer in the area of its birth! Only approximately 20 shirts were produced with the “Probably…” logo and are now, of course highly prized collectors items.

Newcastle and Rangers have been sponsored by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries at times in the past couple of decades. Newcastle of course sported the brewery’s Newcastle Brown Ale logo and Rangers, McEwans Lager.

newcastle-h-euro-95-97Incidentally, Scottish and Newcastle Breweries also used to own holiday complex Center Parcs and when the company was forced to remove their alcoholic brands from the Newcastle and Rangers shirts during games in France they chose instead to replace them with the Center Parcs logo.

In Newcastle’s case this happened against Monaco in the quarter final second leg of the 96-97 UEFA Cup when the Toon lost 3-0.

Rangers have actually sported the Center Parcs logo during the course of two seasons. It was first worn in the 96-97 Champions League match at Auxerre that the French side won 2-1. Then in 97-98 a new style Center Parcs logo was worn in the UEFA Cup first round first leg game in Strasbourg where again the ‘Gers lost 2-1 (also wearing their change blue shorts).

21 Replies to “An alternative to alcohol

  1. Good topic John, I always found it surprising that Liverpool went with Probably just for that trip and for European games in France or Scandanavia just had blank shirts.

    Last season away to PSV they also had no sponsor on the green third kit, rather oddly as the Netherlands doesn’t have a ban on alcohol advertising.

    Finally, and I know it’s nitpicking, but I’m pretty sure that when Rangers wear blue shorts they also wear blue socks?

  2. Thanks Denis – yes you’d think that leaving such a prime ad space blank would be madness, but I guess the deals are so intricate and exclusive that it would prevent any other company coming in. I thought the Probably approach was clever though.

    You are right, Rangers do normally prefer all blue in Europe but in that particular match they did wear their standard black and red socks.

  3. Mea cupla John, I bow to you re the Rangers socks!

    I take it you got my email earlier today?

  4. Yes the great toon 97 shirt with centre parcs on it, I managed to get a hold one a few years later.

    A classic!!

  5. Liverpool actually wore their grey away shirt without Carlsberg sponsors logo in the Champions League last season.

    Has the alcohol sponsorship ban now come into force in The Netherlands?

  6. I think there’s a law in the Netherlands which prohibits people under 25 advertising alcohol, or something similar.

  7. Not just Liverpool adopted the Probably sponsored shirt in 1997 Scandinavian Tour. Liverpool’s FA Cup 4th round opponent in last season (2008-09), Havant & Waterlooville F.C., also do so when they faced Liverpool at Anfield.


    Another possible thought is that, if Liverpool faces FC Copenhagen in Champions League, in the away leg group stage / quarter-final onwards, Liverpool will also need to wear Probably sponsored kit again – UEFA doesn’t allow two teams of the same match adopting the same sponsorship logo.

  8. If there’s a bylaw in Nederland for alcohol bans for broadcasting sports, then it must be a recent new one.

    Back in season 2006-07, Liverpool also faced PSV and wore the yellow shirt with green Carlsberg then. That means no bans were in place at least in that season.

  9. Sorry Shakey, It was the grey kit, you’re right.

    Watching that game I presumed that the law had come in in the Netherlands, but then noticed Heinken advertising boards!

  10. I’m quite surprised Newcastle wore a kit with Center Parcs on in Monaco, because after all they weren’t actually playing in France!

    Seeing the workaround with Liverpool’s kit showing Probably instead of Carlsberg reminds me of what the Welsh rugby team do whenever they play in France. The WRU are sponsored by the Brains brewery, but in the past they have worn Brawn, then Brawn Again. Earlier this year they had Try Essai, which was very clever, not just as “essai” means “try” (as in a rugby try) in French, but it was pronounced like “S.A.”, one of the Brains beer brands.

    The sponsorless Liverpool kit in Eindhoven was a strange one, particularly as what Denis said, the Heineken adverts were clearly visible! I know the Dutch did have plans to ban the advertisement of alcohol but I’m not sure if it actually became law.

    Whether the kit was a spare sponsorless set that they hadn’t planned to use I don’t know, for some strange reason they wore it instead of the designated green away kit for Champions League competition. Even more baffling is that Liverpool had worn the said green kit at Atlético Madrid, who like PSV also wear red and white stripes.

  11. Jon, that’s a good point about Newcastle not being in France, especially as they played Metz that season too, and wore no sponsor!

  12. Re: #7 Michael, an actual example was Arsenal-Hamburg matches a couple of years ago. The away team both times had hastily ironed on patches with ‘Dubai’ to cover the ‘Fly Emirates’ logo.

    #10 Scotland RFU had to deal with this problem for even longer when they were sponsored by a well-known whisky maker who used the logo TFG instead (although I think they tried others as well). Also didn’t they have to allow Heineken spaces at RWC2007 in France?

  13. I doubt it amir, in France the Heineken Cup is just referred to as the ‘H Cup’, while for Champions League games, sponsor boards say ‘Champions Planet’ instead of Heineken

  14. Does anyone know why back in the 90’s that in the Cup winners cup finals and for some years the European Cup finals (Before the champions league), that teams didnt have thier sponsor on thier shirts?

    This was also the case for the World club cup finals aswell

  15. The Welsh rugby team always has to replace the Brains logo whenever they play in France, and they’ve come up with some quite witty contributions in recent years. In 2005, the word “Brains” was replaced with “Brawn”, and then in 2007, they had “Brawn Again”. Then earlier this year the regular Wales kit had “Brains//SA”, but this was replaced by “Try//Essai” (“Essai” is the French word for “try”).

  16. Thanks for yuour comments Tom – I had noticed that Brawn shirt and couldn’t quite get my head around it!

    Adam – thats a good point, I’m guessing its due to sponsors/advertisers at these finals having exclusive advertising rights, ie no other brand names are permissable. Exclusivity in deals of this nature are very common in football (as I’ve recently found out!) Remember way back in the early 80s Liverpool had to play with the Umbro logos covered with a piece of tape?

  17. The Liverpool “Probably” shirts were actually gifted to Waterloo GSOB F.C. following the Scandanavian tour by Ronnie Moran who’s son Paul played in goal for us at that time. We continued to wear them for the following couple of seasons before they were consigned to the bin!!! Oopps!! If only we had thought on we could ahve been sitting on a gold mine!!!

  18. whenthe ospreys rugby club pleyed a french side yesterday instead of having worthingtons on the back it said “are you worthy”. just thought you would like to know

  19. Nice one Jack – maybe thats the way to go with this alcohol ad problem? Rather than just displaying the logo actually convert the kit into a one-off full-on ad?!

  20. Sorry to contradict Adam. Both Chelsea and Stuttgart had their sponsors on show in the ECWC ’98. Autoglass for Chelsea and Gottinger Groupe for Stuttgart. Fantastic goal by Zola by the way.

Comments are closed.