The Replica Football Shirt Crisis

Football shirt crisis brewing in the UK

There is a replica football shirt crisis brewing in the UK. Football teams up and down the country are experiencing serious supply chain issues. Affecting supplies of this season’s new replica football shirts.

Currently only half of the Football League and Premier League teams have home and away shirts available to buy. And many of these will still not have the replica shirts available on sale at the start of the season.

To date very few reports suggest there is a shortage of player issued kit.  Since kit manufacturers usually ring fence the manufacture of these. Player issued kit is produced in the home country on smaller production lines.

Framed replica football shirt, with photos.
Framed replica football shirt, with photos.
Framed replica football shirt, with photos.
Framed replica football shirt, with photos.

Leaving football clubs to count the cost

This is a massive blow for many football clubs. And the knock on effects will impact on club cash flow, marketing and fan engagement.

Teams derive a large proportion of their income from sales of licensed memorabilia. Including replica football shirts and football kits. The new kits are also used in promotional material for the club. And player issue kit isn’t always available to marketing agencies.

It is also a major blow to retail partners who will miss out on pre-season sales of replica football shirts. The purchase of which is a pre-season ritual of many a fan up and down the country.

Lastly concerns are that disappointed fans may never buy the new shirts.  A large proportion of whom cannot buy the ‘new’ seasons replica shirt now may well not bother. Even when it is available in the future. With the opportunity missed to capture the excitement and hope of the new season.

It is also worth mentioning that the cost of a replica football kit is at its peak in this brief pre-season window. As the season plays out typically retailers and kit manufacturers discount the product. As sales and popularity wane. Because as we near the end of a season it is likely a new design will emerge, rendering the current kit obsolete.

The exception to this rule is when clubs experience cup runs, or major success. And fans want a memento of the season.

Why is there a delay in football shirts?

The delay in football shirts can be due to many things. Yet a continuation of COVID-19 disruptions in Asia is recognised as the major factor.

Suppliers in Asia still face lock downs in a zero-Covid China. Forcing production pauses in the finished product and its component materials.

Plus there are still big problems with regards transportation. Including ongoing issues in the global shipping and freight industries on the whole. Which has caused shipping costs for containers to shoot through the roof. Soaring over 300% from the lows just a few years ago.

When will fans be able to buy a new replica football shirt?

Unfortunately for some clubs there is no clear sign when the football shirts will arrive.

This is putting mounting pressure on clubs. With club shops, customer service departments and marketing departments all feeling the heat. Having to deal with disgruntled fans wanting to buy the replica football shirts now. Not to mention the fans who have pre bought the stock that hasn’t yet landed.

Suppliers assure us that the all the problems will be resolved by Christmas.  Which is usually the second most popular time of the year for football shirt sales. With the majority of these buyers purchasing football memorabilia as a gift.

But this will not please the hardcore fans who buy every shirt, every year at the start of the season. And if the crisis drags on longer it will effect the sports memorabilia industry. Not to mention companies like ourselves that make an industry from framing memorabilia.

The replica football shirt crisis stats

These are the percentage of shirts currently available. Stats aggregated for clubs in the Premier League and Football League.

  • 44 teams have both kits available for sale on their website
  • 22 teams have only their home kit available
  • 7 teams have only their away kit available
  • 19 teams have neither kit available

Figures provided by BBC News.

The hype surrounding The London 2012 Summer Olympics is now a distant memory. And nothing highlights this more than the apparent death of athletics

Change in the Industry

We are seeing a shift in operational strategy by many UK based apparel manufacturers. Pausing projects designed to move production abroad and instead investing in UK manufacture. Investment in staff training and production technology has never been higher.

Apparel companies not normally concerned in sports kits too are seeing an opportunity. Trying to break into the replica and player issue football kit industry.

UK based sports kit companies such as The Terrace and O’Neills are taking full advantage. They have made classic replica football shirts for years. And can now put those skills to use making ‘new’ kits.

This investment in the UK isn’t out of blind faith though. Professional and amateur football teams are moving to UK and EU based manufacturers. Moving away from the bigger traditional manufacturers. Names such as Adidas, Nike and Puma.

Currently this strategy is proving fruitful for the clubs. Because these companies are able to provide great quality mass produced replica kits. Made in England so shorter lead times and arguably better service.

With the usual increase in costs associated with UK manufacture negated. Largely by the savings on the massively inflated sea freight costs.

This strategy also creates extra value for the clubs and fans. Especially when it is providing local jobs. Not to mention keeping the replica football shirts on the shop shelves when needed.

Is your football club struggling with stock of their replica football shirt this year? Let us know in the comments below.

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