Clean, crisp and multinational free? Yes please!!!

23 11 2012

This morning I opened my Hotmail account and found 450 unread e-mails. 450? I’d only left my inbox open for a month. One of THE pressures of 21st century life is never having enough time to delete the e-mails you can’t be bothered to read.  I stared at the screen and started cursing. I cursed the fact that McAfee haven’t got the hint. I cursed the way the e-mail subjects make you feel self-conscious, I know I don’t need “that kind” of surgery and I know I don’t need “those coloured pills”, or do I?. I cursed the ease with which I share my personal details.

When I stopped cursing I suddenly felt inspired to do a bit of late autumn spring cleaning. In the middle of my careful mass delete I accidentally opened one of the weekly e-mails from When Saturday Comes. I noticed that it had been sent a few weeks ago. When I manage to keep on top of my inbox I look forward to recieving the e-mails from When Saturday Comes; they help me to keep up with the interesting side of football culture. For example their last e-mail told me about a DVD that celebrates Swindon Town’s run in this season’s League Cup.

The e-mails usually contain a story about the significance of a certain football shirt. The shirt being analysed in the e-mail I opened was Blackburn’s home shirt from the season they won the premier league;

“This Blackburn shirt tells us a lot about the club today. Aside from the familiar blue and white halves, the differences between the two shirts highlights some of the current problems that Rovers face. To start with, the 1994-95 kit had a sponsor. McEwan’s, a Scottish brand of lager, became Rovers sponsors in 1991 and stayed on the front of the shirt for five years. Blackburn are currently in their second season without a corporate sponsor having last season donated the space to the Princes Trust and this season rather embarrassingly having the front of the shirt blank.”

I re-read and re-read the end of the last sentence just to make sure I hadn’t misread it. I hadn’t misread it, someone had actually written “…..this season rather embarrassingly having the front of the shirt blank”.

It’s sad to think that sponsorship is such an accepted part of football that people would rather let a multinational capitalist exploiter use their club as an image laundering device than “put up” with an empty shirt front. A sponsor-free shirt is hardly embarrassing as a football shirt always looks better without commercial endorsement. It doesn’t matter whether the sponsor-free shirt is due to a club’s moral outlook, or its perceived institutional sloppiness, it will always look better than a polyester billboard. It’s certainly preferable to Scandinavian abominations;

When the main point of a football shirt was differentiating teams from one another the only thing that mattered was having a clean and crisp design;

These shirts are not embarrassing, they are classic designs.

The acceptance of sponsorship did not become widespread until the spiritual dark age; the yuppie controlled 1980s. However the idea of sponsorship was not universally accepted. Broadcasters banned sponsored shirts from televised matches and some clubs still had sponsor-free shirts;

Sometimes only some of the players in a team wore sponsored shirts;

The main reason that European finals always looked special was the sponsor-free shirts;

Oddly sponsored shirts were allowed in UEFA Cup Finals;

Given the nature of the contemporary champions league it’s odd to think they once banned sponsored shirts from the group stages.

Unfortunately the last European finals with sponsor-free shirts took place in 1994;

As you can see, in every case sponsor-free shirts look infinitely superior to sponsored versions. Let’s test my idea. Firstly, would Tommy Burns’’ shirt look better with a sponsor?

Gritt 5


Secondly let’s look at two European Cup winning Real Madrid kits. Don’t try and tell me that the lower one looks better than the one above it.

Thirdly, we all know which Liverpool shirt looks better here.

Inclusion is one the watchwords of the 21st century. In other words, even the needs of moaning buggers have to be be satisfied nowadays. Nowadays, moaning buggers can buy sponsor-free shirts from certain clubs.

The concept of inclusion tinkers with sponsorship in other ways. Imagine your club is sponsored by an online betting firm or a purveyor of alcoholic drinks. Now imagine that you’re the kind of person that believes it’s unseemly to turn children into walking billboards for these companies. Well the concept of inclusion includes your viewpoint. For children it’s possible to buy sponsor-free shirts, shirts with a more child-friendly sponsor or even shirts with a more wholesome message;

The kids’ West Ham shirt is immeasurably better.

To briefly restate my ideas; no football shirt is improved by a sponsors’ name despite what an e-mail from When Saturday Comes might claim.

(Disclaimer!!!! – I didn’t take any of these photos, I found them all on the internet)




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