There are a few things that football fans have to get used to this season. An early start date. A mid-season World Cup. Five substitutes becoming the norm. One thing that stays the same is the influx of new kits on the market.
Here, Underdog Sports Marketing founder Ged Colleypriest picks his top ten. Based not on commercial potential but simply the musings of someone who clearly thinks far too much about these things.
1. Crystal Palace Third
As a Charlton fan, it speaks volumes about how cool this kit is that I’ve put it at the top of the tree. All three Eagles kits have used a brush stroke styling to inject new life into the red and blue stripes. This looks particularly striking on a black shirt with the Palace sash across it. Sponsor and manufacturer logos are in white, which make sure it doesn’t look too busy. All of which has managed to overcome every partisan bone in my body and give this shirt top spot.
2. Manchester United Away
United now have to release kits without the help of full-time sports marketeer/part-time midfielder Paul Pogba. But Adidas designers have been working extra hard to counteract United’s ineptitude on the field in recent years, doing a great job of bringing a contemporary edge to retro designs. This one harks back to the 80s. Long before kits were changed on a yearly basis, United wore the same white away kit for close to a decade. How times have changed. Then again they also didn’t win a league title during that time either, a parallel Erik ten Haag will be hoping to avoid this season.
3. West Ham Home
This one is inspired by the early nineties. A weird time when the Hammers were in the second tier. But instantly it takes me back to watching The London Match as a kid on a Sunday afternoon, doing everything possible (short of watching Songs of Praise) to avoid doing my homework. Umbro does nostalgia well and this is another fine effort, that gets a great grade...unlike my homework.
PS. If anyone at BAC Windows is reading (if indeed they still exist) you would look perfect on this kit.
4. Fulham Home
Ah Fulham, everyone’s favourite away day. Something for everyone. A gastro-burger in Putney or a Weatherspoon’s breakfast in Hammersmith. Cottagers fans get to enjoy these experiences throughout the year and they can do so in style this season with another stripped back classic from Adidas. The little wave pattern on the collar is inspired by the Thames (probably) and the white is so bright and pristine, it’ll look perfect...until you spill your pint down it. Neck Oil Session IPA or Ruddles Best depending on which pub you decided on. 5. Crystal Palace Home
If including one Palace kit in the top ten was unexpected, putting in a second one has made me question everything about myself. But, fair play, it’s another cracker. When I’m writing this column in 20 years time (presuming UP don’t ban me from doing it) I’m sure the Eagles will be wheeling out an anniversary kit inspired by this one. My only hope is that Charlton are there to rival it.
6. Brighton Home
Year after year, Brighton and Nike seem to churn out real hipster classics. This is another one to add to the list. There’s a real deck chair vibe to this one, and that can only be a good thing. The panel around the American Express branding has created a slightly strange ‘H’ shape. But after lots of unnecessary thought on my part, I’ve concluded that it makes it all the more unique.
7. Aston Villa Away
Castore’s first foray into Premier League kits ((Wolves and Newcastle last term) left me feeling a bit cold. But their efforts this year are much stronger. Pick of the bunch is this Villa change kit. Thin stripes offer a slight contrast on the sky blue shirt. All the detailing including the club crest and sponsor is in claret, which looks really clean. A slight bugbear is that the shorts are blue as well rather than claret but nonetheless a fine effort.
Oh and if you haven’t seen it, the club shop also sells a Hawaiian shirt in club colours. A perfect present for the Villa-loving party animal in your family. Or the unsuspecting Birmingham City supporting stag being forced into fancy dress.
8. Brentford Home
There’s lots to love about Brentford. Great new stadium (even if it doesn’t have a pub on each corner), great community ethos and a great relationship with their fans. Something that is reflected in their decision to extend their kit cycles to every two years. Plus they have priced the shirts really competitively. As for the actual jersey, it’s a safe but solid effort. Red and white stripes, black shorts are a classic combo. The aggressively large bookie logo is jarring, as is the crypto branding on the sleeve. The kids version shows how good it could look with more subtle sponsor placement.
9. Manchester City Home
Much to love here. The rounded collar. The burgundy trim. The badge in the centre. The fact it’s inspired by the Colin Bell era. A time when players wore heavy cotton or wool shirts. Part of me would love to see Jack Grealish have a game in one of those jerseys, on a wet and windy Wednesday in Wolverhampton (the 2022 equivalent of Tuesday in Stoke, surely). Either way, I’m sure he’d look the part on and off the ball.
10. Spurs Home
Daniel Levy will be hoping to sell a load of shirts with Richarlison on the back to offset some of the £60m spent on the Brazilian (putting aside the economics of shirt sale profit margins, for the sake of this crowbarred introduction). To be fair, when it looks this good, there’s every chance that it’ll be a hit in the clubshop. No messing about from Nike, brilliant white with nice detailing on the collar and sleeve trim. As sparkling as Levy would like to see the balance sheet.
Ged Colleypriest is the founder of Underdog Sports Marketing