The reports of Umbro’s demise are greatly exaggerated

Posted by John Devlin

Like so many others, I believe there has been a massive diamond shaped gap in the football kit market this year.

Whether, as I have thought for some time, that the commercial necessity to produce new kits every year is meaning that designers/manufacturers are running out of steam and ideas or its simply a lack of inspiration, innovation and creativity is up for debate. Whatever the reasons for what is shaping up to be a mediocre 13-14 set of kits, it’s clear Umbro are sorely missed.

When news of Nike’s intention to sell the brand last year many football kit ‘watchers’ feared the worst. This seemed to be confirmed when we heard of Man City and the prestigious England/FA deal going to Nike. When every other club in the Umbro roster also switched camps in preparation for the 2013-14 season it certainly appeared that we had potentially seen the last of Umbro in top flight football.

I was therefore delighted when Umbro contacted me recently and invited me up to their Dale Street, Manchester HQ to show me what their forthcoming plans entailed.

Eager with anticipation I was greeted and shown round the entire workforce. Naturally the company is now much smaller than in the Nike years and with their other office in Cheadle closed Umbro now operates only with key staff, each dedicated and focused on bringing success back to Umbro.

So, has professional football seen the last of Umbro?

The good news is that Umbro are far from dead! In fact there are big plans for 14-15 season with some exciting news about new contracts hopefully announced soon. Of course with such a major ownership shake up the company were never going to be able to leap back into the game straight away which is why the 13-14 campaign won’t see any Umbro kits in the UK top flight (Hhowever, it must be remembered that in other areas of the world there are plenty of Umbro outfits still about). This is only to be expected.

Think of it as like a relegation from the Premier League only to recoup and consolidate in the Championship in preparation for bouncing right back the following year.

As a kit devotee its encouraging to hear that the brand who put so much thought and care into their strips will be back in football soon.

Personally, I can’t wait…