There’s plenty that’s new about this current Arsenal team. Perhaps most obviously, it seems to enjoy defending. Moreover, there’s a new set of personnel: it tells you something when Theo Walcott is suddenly the longest serving player.
Out on the pitch, they look different too. Arsenal take to the field in a home strip with a controversial blue hoop on the armband, and a strikingly unfamiliar purple away shirt. As a rule this blog focuses on events on the pitch, but seeing as this post is sponsored by JD Sports I thought I’d touch on a bugbear of mine.
Arsenal’s kits always seem to be the subject of some controversy – fans often feel disappointed by what they perceive as a failure to adhere to the traditions of the club. But modern football puts demands on the club which mean they can’t simply put out a classic red-and-white strip with a yellow-and-blue away year on year. Allow Arsenal’s Head of Marketing, Tom Fox, to explain:
“We liaise with our kit supplier Nike and we can’t limit the design scope too much otherwise it’s too difficult to come up with a new design. We do set some ground rules. For the home shirt, we say it has to be a red shirt with white sleeves. But beyond that, Nike needs scope with the design, also so that they can sell the shirt in China, the U.S. etc.”
Global selling potential is, unfortunately, a far bigger priority than the preservation of historical heraldry. As much as we’d like to see the traditional look year in year out, it simply can’t happen.
If you want to buy yourself a sponsor-less seventies replica shirt, there are plenty of places you can do that. In the meantime, we have to accept commercial realities and try our best to embrace the designs Nike put before us.
For what it’s worth, I think the recent purple reign kit is a pretty good effort. Whilst it’s not necessarily a colour we associate with Arsenal, the regal hue reflects the club’s history, class, and status. A quick glance at the away kit on show at Spurs shows how bad things could be by comparison.
As for the home kit, we’re lying if we pretend blue hasn’t featured on home kits before. Just have a look at this page to see how often it has occurred. And as Tom Fox points out, we and our wallets can be grateful for one thing:
“We’ve done a two year home shirt this year and we’re the only club in the world to do that.”
If you ask me, this effort more than merits hanging around for a couple of years. Especially if we keep playing in it as we currently are.