Wednesday, 14 July 2010

2010/11 Kits Reviewed

On July 15th, the new season's home kit was released with the away to follow a couple of months later. The home kit sees Nike opting to use a proper collar for the first time since they took over from Umbro in 2002. In fact, it looks a little like the 1980-82 adidas kit, and no doubt this was the inspiration for the designer. Lets just hope the team perform a little better in this new version than they did in the original.

Manchester United 2010-11 Home kit

As part of Nike's new 'Considered Design' range, it is made of recycled plastic bottles. Apparently this process saves 30% of the energy that would have gone into making a conventional football shirt and over the entire range has saved 254,000 kg of polyester going to waste.

Much like the current Brazil home shirt, it features a thin stripe down the sleeves and on the left arm there is a black devil. Why it could not have been a red devil is anyone's guess, frankly. The back of the shirt features an odd shadow pattern that brings to mind the emblem of the evil Decepticons from the Transformers cartoon series, and (a pet hate of mine) just below the collar the script "MUFC" is printed in the same rubbery material as the stripes. Unlike on practically every other Nike shirt this year, there is no contrast trim at the end of the sleeves, just a simple hem. Another cost cutting measure? Possibly, I feel it would have looked a fair bit better with it.

I have noticed a couple of differences between the replica versions and the players shirts. There is an extra panel of material with ventilation holes under the arms of the match shirts and the stripe on the left sleeve does not feature the devil logo. Curiously, the venting is the same as on the Brazil home jersey and is featured on the replica versions of that shirt - why have they not bothered to include it on the United shirt? Again, it can only be down to cost - very sloppy, Nike.

The away kit is sadly a victim of the current 80s fashion revival (as if it wasn't bad enough the first time around) and Nike's new-found love of jagged "lightening flash" motifs, as featured on the new Juventus and Werder Bremen kits. It's a bit of a mess, which is a shame because at least this time Nike got the colours right. A simple inverse of the home kit would have been far more pleasing - even a version of the Juventus away with red and black flashes down the centre would have been preferable.

Manchester United 2010-11 Change kit

Both shirts feature the logo of new sponsors, Aon, who reached an £80m agreement with the club in June, 2009.

Sadly, (in common with all United kits since the 2008/09 white away) both shirts also feature the cheap, machined club crests within a sewn-on patch where only the red devil is embroidered. Obviously this is a cost cutting exercise at Nike (most of their other clubs have similar crests currently), but stangely (especially considering the reduced cost of manufacture due to the recycled materials) the prices of the shirts have gone up by about £5.

Nike seem to have scant regard for UEFA rules when it comes to designing kits and once again, this will mean that they will have to use a modified version of the home shirt in European competition. The sponsor's logo will probably have to be smaller and the stripes on the sleeves most likely contravene the rule about leaving a "free zone" there to accommodate the UEFA starball and respect patches.

The home kit (with alternate white socks) was debuted by the reserves in a 4-0 win in the Jack Crompton Trophy two days before it was due to be officially revealed at Ashton Curzon's Tameside Stadium. Thanks to Paul Jolleys for the photos:

Manchester United reserves Vs Ashton Curzon, 12/07/2010 1 Manchester United reserves Vs Ashton Curzon, 12/07/2010 2

The main topic of contention about the kits though is the compatibility with the current green and gold campaign. Should supporters continue to purchase replicas if they want to be part of the protest? Is it putting more of the fans money in the Glazers pockets and prolonging their reign?

These questions are difficult to answer. In simple terms, if you are a match-going fan who is part of the green and gold movement, you should really be leaving your traditional red club colours at home anyway as it makes a better visual protest if you are seen in only the green and gold of Newton Heath rather than "diluting" it with red. It just kind of defeats the point. If you are not a match goer, it doesn't really matter what colours you wear.

At the time of the Glazer takeover, a boycott of the kits (along with other products by Nike and the other official sponsors) was urged by some supporters but was not successful. Although no real fresh attempt has been made to convince supporters to do so this year, it seems that there would likely be the same response.

Some supporters see buying the latest shirts as just another part of how they support the club, just as some see going to the match as such. There are thousands of those who do both, of course.

The facts are that under the terms of the deal United signed with Nike almost a decade ago, the sportswear firm formed a wholly-owned subsidiary to control United's global licensing and retail operations (link). The club get a guaranteed set fee in the region of £23m from Nike per year, regardless of the amount of shirts sold. In the grand scheme of Nike's business, it doesn't mean a great deal. Last year, Nike had revenues of over £12 billion. The vast majority (over 50%) of their business comes from their footwear range. They spend around 13% (roughly £1.6 billion) of their annual revenue on advertising and sponsorships, and their deal with United (even if you factor out any money Nike make from it) is worth around 1.4% of that. It's fairly obvious to say that Nike's main interest in United is in increasing their brand profile and market share. Their sponsorship of United guarantees their swoosh logo a place in the sports pages of newspapers worldwide almost every day of the year. A few hundred thousand £40 shirts not sold would not make a difference to Nike or ultimately to the Glazers either.

Doing things to make sure that the Glazer family do not continue to profit from fans is something many of us are rightly concerned about, but I really do not believe on the available evidence that boycotting shirts will have any effect at all other than to save the would-be customer £40 or so. Ultimately, do what you think is best for your club and for yourself.

1 comment:

  1. Manchester United 2010/11 Kits The main feature lies in his cuff.
    This year's Manchester United shirt, his overall has been very perfect.