THE furore over the price of the new England World Cup replica shirt seems to have died down rather quickly – I hope it is not being swept under the carpet.
The price of football shirts in the megastores and souvenir shops has long been a delicate issue, albeit less so in recent years with fans just accepting their annual layout for a new home/away/third/centenary/etc strip.
But the release of the new national shirt at a whopping £90 has reignited the debate and rightly so.
Now, I understand you can pay as much for a fashionable T-shirt by Lacoste or Ralph Lauren in the top High Street stores but this is a football shirt at the end of the day.
This is something you buy to watch the match in or even to wear playing football. Most people would not pick out their team’s shirt for a Saturday night down Deansgate – you probably would get turned away wearing ‘colours’ on a standard weekend night out anyway.
And worse than that, these manufacturers know the latest football shirt is as much a commodity for today’s kids as their iphones or the latest trainers.
Where many adults would snub a £90 England shirt, it is harder for them to justify a boycott to their kids.
I am not just picking on the FA or Nike, who make the England kit, either. These companies are all in the same boat.
I remember the issue once being raised in the House of Commons when Manchester United switched from Adidas to Umbro and released three new shirts in one pre-season.
There were tentative agreements, I recall, for clubs to only change home and away shirts in alternate years so their shelf-life would be two years.
That did not take long to fall by the wayside. It seems clubs change them every year now, whether they are switching sponsors, manufacturers or away colours – and add to that some clubs sell the same designs in long sleeves as well. Where will it end?
Well, hopefully it has reached a zenith with this new England shirt.
I know you are not forced to fork out for it but how many parents have the heart to say to their kids, “sorry not this year – wear the older one”?
The draw of wearing the same shirt the players will be wearing is huge – I cannot deny I have a special Mexico ’86 replica England shirt in a suitcase in the loft back home.
But considering the additional cost of having names and numbers printed on the back, we are talking more than £100 for a shirt that will be out of date before Christmas.
It is time to make these kit manufacturers see sense.
Sadly, though, for everyone who snubs them, another two will buy one and ultimately, fans can be their own worst enemies.