INTERESTINGLY these last few days, many Liverpool fans have been quick and at ease to be a critic of Manchester United, with reports that they are to introduce two new replica shirts, making it five new home replica football shirts in the last five years, which of course is very excessive in terms of parents with young children who will be demanding this new shirt that their peers will undoubtedly be wearing. The design of the shirts is itself huge reason for the understandable laughter.
Liverpool fans may not be laughing for too long however, when they realise the deal the club have in place with their own kit sponsors Adidas will be ending at the conclusion of this current season. This will almost certainly account for the introduction of two, and more likely three new replica shirts, with each costing somewhere between £35-£50 depending on the size.
The club have signed a new deal with the American sports manufacturer Warrior giving them the rights to produce the Replica shirts and training apparel for the next six years. The deal starts on 1st June 2012, which will coincide with the conclusion of this current season.
This February will also see yet another home England shirt launched, even though the current home shirt has only actually been worn by the national team on just eight occasions, proof if needed that the Football Association are taking liberties with football fans and their loyalties, they are in danger of isolating their own fans, with many now seeing a regional identity much more important than a national one. With nationalism taking somewhat of a bashing lately more and more fans prefer to be identified by club colours.
I think people forget that Liverpool Football club were the first top flight side to carry a sponsors logo on their shirts only as far back as 1979 when they advertised the Japanese electronics manufacturer Hitachi.
The replica shirt phenomenon has actually quite a new existence, only going back to the inception of The Premier League and Sky’s coverage when names began to appear on shirts along with the already in existence number, which again seems quite absurd when you think this was only a hop, skip and a jump to 1992.
So what exactly did we do before the explosion in replica sales drove us all into sports shops & our own club shops up and down the country, handing over our well earned in the pursuit of not only ourselves but our children looking and feeling part of the tribe.
The answers lies within our good old friend THE SCARVE, or as we liked to call it, a scarf. Yes remember when we all possessed a woolly (well acrylic) red & white scarf? To be fair the scarf has not gone away or become extinct however if you were to suggest to little Johnnie, or more likely Little Luis that instead of paying £40 for his new home shirt, with the added Premier League badges and his name on the reverse, you were actually going to get him a new scarf, then before you could say “Luis, tie it in a knot son” he would be on the phone to child-line looking for a new family to take him in, and more than likely Uruguayan’s. Liverpool fans more than any other have continued the tradition of wearing and waving scarfs, and remember the great man Shanks was our most famous wearer. There was a time when the scarf was the only sign of an allegiance to your team, when you were unable to even buy a replica of the clubs shirt.
Although we all know the finance received from the commercial side of our club is important in bringing much needed revenue to fund player acquisitions, the club have to be careful how far they go down that road, not only in the sales of merchandise but also ticket prices, we started this piece by laughing at Manchester United, but “He who laughs last, laughs longest”.
The owners, our custodians of our club, its rich history and its future prosperity need to understand We Are Liverpool Football Club, and we are totally different to any other sporting institution in Britain, America or the World, if we are to be a brand, we must be a UNIQUE brand.
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