Every so often a football kit comes along that gets the whole world talking.
It happened with Nike and Nigeria before the 2018 World Cup.
It happened with novelties like FC Rostov’s lucky-rug kit and Bedale AFC’s sausage shirts.
This week it happened with Huddersfield Town’s over-the-top beauty-queen-sash shirts that loudly called out a bookmaker’s name and made us all check the date wasn’t April 1st.
Last season, online bookmakers and casinos took advertising space on around 60% of football shirts in England’s top 2 divisions, whilst little sleeve badges still reminded fans of EFL clubs that “when the fun stops, stop.”
Quite aside from the moral dilemma of clubs accepting money to promote gambling and all the misery it can lead to, the plain lack of variety has cheapened many English football shirts and in some cases (witness QPR and Newcastle United), those logos have ruined otherwise decent looking kits.
On Friday morning, Huddersfield Town and their shouty corporate supporter confirmed what we all suspected – their oversized sponsor’s logo on a huge white sticker was of course a hoax.
But not before the Football Association had become excited about the Terriers breaking the rules which limit logos on the front of shirts to just 250cm square.
The official line is that Huddersfield’s kit stunt had been intended to raise questions as to why corporate logos were ruining football shirts?
We’re not against sponsorship at Sartorial.Soccer and we all know that when companies are in-step with a club and their supporters, the placement of a sponsorship logo can actually enhance a shirt.
Think of the vertical positioning of ABN AMRO on classic Ajax shirts, think of Newcastle United’s connection to the blue “Newcastle Brown Ale” star, and think of how accustomed to Guinness QPR fans have become? OK, those last two examples were already well-established before any sponsorship deal was struck.
After their one-off performance in a pre-season friendly with Rochdale, the Terriers will not wear a sponsor’s name on their clean, blue and white striped shirts by Umbro for the year ahead. This will make those match-worn shirts with that giant white diagonal sticker incredibly sought after items of memorabilia.
It could have been handled a whole lot better so that the joke wasn’t on Huddersfield Town supporters, but there was at least an attempt at humour here which we can certainly appreciate.
Whether the intentions were honourable or not, Huddersfield’s flirtation with an online bookmaker has provided a whole lot more attention than most other betting firms could hope for in a year.
It’s a shame that Town fans were drawn into the joke, but they can at least look forward to a season ahead with a really nice looking shirt from Umbro!
UPDATE: The Terriers auctioned-off their sash shirts to support three local charities.