Whilst I make no apology for being opinionated, it occasionally becomes necessary for me to qualify my remarks. For example, I recently railed against the use of sublimation in football shirt manufacture, only to have it pointed out to me that major sportswear manufacturers utilise the technique to create stripes, hoops, sashes and other integral patterns. I was, of course, aware of this and merely hadn't been explicit enough in outlining that I was referring to sublimation's use when adding finer details such as single, double or triple striping on sleeves, manufacturers' logos, crests and sponsors.
Ah, sponsors. Even more recently I wrote a piece taking aim at football clubs and associations - FAI, this means you - which allow shirt sponsorship to impact negatively on a design or reputation. What I didn't make quite clear enough, it seems, is that I actually like football shirt sponsorship.
In fact, the right sponsor can make a football shirt. Cork City/QPR with Guinness, St Pauli with Astra, Scarborough with Black Death Vodka (really!). In my last article I referred to Liverpool's association with Carlsberg - as opposed to Standard Chartered - as being one which was celebrated by the fans, but I'm more of a Candy man (ha) myself, with a fondness for Crown Paints and, naturally, Hitachi. In fact, befitting someone born in Kettering - home of the first British club to wear a shirt sponsor - I am keen to embrace brand logos appearing on shirts, if it's the right brand and the right logo, and the bigger the better.
CR Smith was a particular favourite with Celtic - though the larger player style rather than the downsized version used on the replicas. And, whilst I understand the desire to get one's hands on a rarity, Uefa's limiting of the size of shirt sponsors is generally to the shirts' cost, even considering Borussia Dortmund's dispensing of the Die Continental wording on their run to Champions League glory in 1997, and creating a perpetually out of reach version of their 97-98 shirt in the final.
On the other hand, the Uefa rule that teams in opposition cannot wear the same sponsor - seemingly now defunct - has thrown up some great one-offs, as has the barring of alcohol and gambling sponsorship in certain countries. Arsenal imploring people to visit Dubai paired up, in a cross-generational illustration of the UK's north-south divide, with Newcastle recommending a more modest outlay on a trip to Center Parcs. Blink and you'll miss them but they attain legendary status.
Equally, an increased quantity can be as effective as an increased size. The French - also prone to cross-competition sponsorship rotation - and, even more notably, South and Central American team's football kits are covered in logos. It's cluttered and it must detract from from the original design but a large-sized main sponsor surrounded by smaller indicators of more modest deals, short sponsors - and here I do prefer sublimation, and will forever regret lending my 1994-95 l'OM shorts to a teammate, never to see them again - and even iconic sponsors on socks just, somehow, looks cool. Like a Nascar or Piccadilly Circus, nay, Tokyo in football kit form.
If I haven't demonstrated my love for football kit sponsorship enough then I should point out that I've dreamt, for many years, of my own staccato-fixtured football team Marceltipool wearing an Away or Third kit displaying a whole array of sponsors. How many? Let's just say I have a number in mind...
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