Kitting Controversy – Strip Stories That Stunned
Find out what happened when tradition clashed with business – and common – sense.
July 5th, 2012
Recent developments regarding Cardiff City – nicknamed the Bluebirds – and their switching over to a red home strip as of next season have raised more than a few eyebrows; approximately 140 of them if today’s story is anything to go by.
Going by the obvious strategy that red shirts sell better in Asia – see Liverpool, Man United and, er, Accrington Stanley? – New Malaysian investors called for changes to the kit as they announced their intent to inject £100m into the club; at the small cost of changing the club’s uniform and badge to something more marketable. 70 of the most vocally opposed season ticket holders are to be offered refunds on the condition that their seats can be resold before next season’s first kick of a ball.
Here are two other times when a strip change courted controversy.
When the Old Lady celebrated its undefeated season and title win in May, proposals were made by the club of adding a third Stella or star to its jersey for the upcoming season: representing three sets of ten Serie A championships. However, problems arose after a quick consultation of The History Books (copyright: Mr Cliché) revealed that Juventus are officially recognised as league champions on 28 occasions. Following the Calciopoli scandal of 2006, where several top-flight clubs stood accused and were found guilty of conspiring with referees, Juventus were officially stripped of their league titles from the 2005 and 2006 Serie A seasons, and relegated to Serie B. Without the official records to back it up, the third Stella was not awarded. In fact, the stars are being ditched altogether in favour of a slogan that translates as “30 wins on the pitch”.
Ah, that old chestnut. It isn’t so much a lesson in business, or an immoral attempt to sway officials, so much as it is one of the least popular football kits ever manufactured. In the spring of 1996 Manchester United their multi-million money-spinner; not a new player or training facility, but a new kit. United were in the thick of a highly successful Premier League period – with only a defeat against Everton in the previous FA Cup Final to tarnish their solid record – and on course to take their third Premier League title out of the four awarded in history.
Enter, the grey day in April. Going three-nil down at Southampton before half-time was nobody’s idea of a successful league campaign, nor were the three defeats and one draw in all games wearing that strip. A furious Alex Ferguson ordered the team to change kit as soon as they entered the dressing room, but the damage was done despite a consolation goal from Ryan Giggs. Lee Sharpe blamed it on the weather – the intense sunshine will really do that to a grey strip – and the kit was officially retired only two days later, without living to see United’s resurgence and eventual title win.