Tuesday, February 20, 2007
An Open Letter to the Premier League (And the Scottish Premier, and Ligue 1, and MLS)
Most of you know by now that England's Premier League along with a few other leagues around the world have a policy of making all the clubs in the league wear the same shirt numbers on the back of the jersey. For example, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and every other team in the Premiership wear these numbers. The same is true of the Scottish Premier League along with Ligue 1 in France and MLS here in the good ol' U.S. of A. Let's take a moment to analyze the pros and cons of such a policy and then I'll tell you why we here at footballkitblog are opposed to this policy.
First the pros. Obviously with a uniform code for all shirt numbers, you don't end up with wild variations of shirt numbers. This can be helpful in cases like this, where the team obviously used poor judgement in picking their shirt numbers. Also, since many of the Premier League's clubs also compete in the UEFA Champions League or the UEFA Cup, the teams get to wear different shirt numbers like Man. U., which this year is wearing these numbers in Europe, or Chelsea which this year is wearing this in Europe. This makes for a scenario where many die-hard fans will go out and buy this year's Home "league" shirt and the Home "europe" shirt. The only difference on the shirt being the shirt numbers (and in some case, certain sleeve patches). That translates to a fleecing of the supporters, oops, sorry, increased revenue for the clubs and kit makers. Lastly, I must say that the Premier League's numbers are very well-made and are higher quality that many shirt numbers around the world. The material they are made from seems to be thicker and they have a felt-type of finish. I also like the little Premier League Badge at the bottom of each digit.
Now to the cons. The biggest one is that this uniform policy stifles creativity. I mean c'mon, these Premier League numbers are at least 10-15 years old by now. That means 10-15 years of watching your team in the same old shirt numbers in a sport where shirt numbers are constantly evolving. Just look at this picture of the Spanish Primera League, which has an "open" shirt number policy. Doesn't that look much better than this? And for once can these clubs and manufacturers go easy on the fans? Why make us go out and buy 2 of the same shirt? As far as the bottom of the digits, it's much nicer to have the club badge on there instead of the League badge. Just look at this. In most cases, the league badge is already on the sleeve of the shirt. Yeah, I know the club badge is already on the chest, but it is the club's shirt, not the league's.
So I'm urging the Premier League to look into this matter. If I'm not mistaken, the Premiership was the first to implement the uniform shirt number policy, and surely the other copy-cat leagues would reassess the situation if England did the same. Perhaps a compromise would be to come up with a uniform standard for shirt numbers, in terms of height, width, materials, thickness, number of colors used, etc.