My Letter to the FA regarding the new Nike England shirt release
Just a bit of a rant here but i think the sentiment is more than fair. A response for this has been received which i will post at a later date.
The Football Association
PO Box 1966
1 May 2014
I am writing with regards to the new England shirt made available for sale early this month. Ten months ago I bought my son the previous shirt. This would appear to be the first shirt manufactured by Nike. I paid the full price with printing on the reverse side for a player name and number. As you can appreciate the kit was not cheap particularly with the added cost of the printing, but let’s face it when kids are involved you’re always going to have to fork out for the printing. It’s part of the product. Whilst a pricey, but to be fair premium product, you take the view that this shirt will be used for a minimum of two years (the length of the qualification and tournament process) so there will be to a certain extent value for money. However, something changed this year, you decided that it was appropriate to release a 2nd home shirt specifically for the tournament. My honest assessment is that it is an outrageous decision.
This means that the England National first team have worn this kit in only eight fixtures. The vast majority of which were meaningless friendlies. So the kids got to see their heroes wear this shirt only 8 times. It’s almost forgettable and in ten years time no one will remember this kit unless you say the one that looked like it should have been worn by the Americans. Even if you go back to our recent past you can remember the kits worn at Euro 96, Owen’s goal vs Argentina of the Beckham free kick vs Greece kit. All these kits were worn or were current for twice as long as the previous kit and long enough for something memorable to occur. It’s a real shame that you feel the need to release kits on a yearly rather than tournament cycle. The international season is two years long. It’s bad enough club sides have taken to releasing three player and two goalkeeper kits each season with some clubs releasing addition ‘cup’ shirts. I presume this is a taster for things to come from the FA.
So, my son’s 10 month old kit is now redundant. It’s out of date and no longer wanted. There’s a new kit out and now I will have to shell out again. The difference here being that this kit may only be really worn for 6 games with any actual enthusiasm if that. As soon as the World Cup is over the kit largely becomes as redundant as my son’s current out of date one unless we win the thing (despite the Euro qualification as i’m sure there will be a new one out after 2 or 3 games). In my opinion this shirt should have coincided with the commencement of the next qualification process. The reason why it doesn’t is because it is a huge money spinner to milk more money out of fans and parents of fans. We don’t already pay enough for tickets, TV subscriptions, club merchandise and apparel, games, stickers and cards and all kinds of throwaway material stuff, do we? The sad facts are that we will continue to pay out because we love the game. That is in despite of England as a team being probably the most disappointing part of being a supporter. I know of a number of football fans who have no interest in watching England, how sad is that to hear?
I note that two versions have been made available for purchase. Historically the replica kits on sale have always been different to the ones used by the players, it’s just on this occasion you have approved the decision to sell the premium kit additionally. On the face of this it does not really bother me as if i was to buy one for myself or my son if would opt for the ‘cheaper’ £60 shirt. Reason being it’s only going to be worn on the sofa or at the park. I am not a well conditioned athlete and to the man on the street, could anyone tell the difference? The one thing I will say is that there will be kids out there who will want the ‘real’ shirt. Effectively once you have Rooney on the back its a £100 investment. Is that a fair burden?
My personal point of view on the pricing is that you’ve missed a trick. The standard shirt is priced at £60 (excluding mandatory reverse name and number printing) and I’m sure you will sell lots on units. Everyone that probably ‘usually’ gets one will stretch their funds to invest. I believe that a major marketing strategy would have been to put the shirts on sale for £20-25. At that price not just the usual customer will make the purchase, but everyone will. Every football fan in the country, their kids, mum, the dog, the grandparents, local businesses and even non English people living in England would have taken a punt and got wrapped up in the excitement. What does that do? It gets everyone involved, gives people a real connection and everyone excited about the team especially as the games are on terrestrial (presumably that will change in time). You will say that reducing the price is uneconomical. But i would argue against this. As it has been illustrated in the media and social media in recent weeks, the England shirt is effectively a white tshirt with the Three Lions badge on it. That may sound crude but it is the reality. The kit manufacturer produces similar tshirts without the England badge for £20-30. The badge does not cost £30. So theoretically it is possible. You could have subsidised this difference for the benefit of everyone and in the long run I am positive it would have been to your benefit. It would have been a real good news story for the people that regularly support and are disappointed in the national side. You can use this strategy for the next tournament with my blessing.
All in all the kit release is a real poor decision by the FA and a bit of a kick in the balls for the fans. I watch England on a regular basis at Wembley (more money from my pocket to yours), because my son loves the stadium and seeing the best players in theory that we have to offer, but personally I cant remember the last time i enjoyed an England game. It was probably one or two games under Sven. For sure the kit does not have anything to do with the team per se but we as fans deserved something back. I really hope that the team does well as the kit will leave an inappropriate taste in the mouth and the general opinion of the FA and the England team will continue to disintegrate.