New Kit Launched Today To Mixed Reviews
Yes, this is an article about the new home kit and no, you’re correct, I’d rather not feel the need to have to write about it, but bear with me.
Rather than using Twitter to deliver a few thoughts in one hundred and forty characters or less, I decided it would be easier to do so in this way, in what I hope will be a humorous yet serious manner, so here goes.
Today, Celtic launched the 2013/14 home kit at the Nike Store in Glasgow.
It’s green, it’s white, and to anyone who doesn’t follow Celtic, it’ll likely look very similar to the endless hooped shirts which have come before it.
The word “hooped”, of course, is where the first point of contention lies. Every green hoop is split into seven smaller hoops, leading to an almost endless debate about whether or not the aforementioned hoops are broken – after all, they do go all the way around (unlike the infamous NTL shirt during Martin O’Neill’s tenure in the early 2000’s) but it does split up the larger hoop as we all know.
Now, some people will like this design, and others won’t. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Personally, I’m not a big fan of it at the moment, but hey, that’s just me. If you like the new kit, that’s fantastic. Undoubtedly it will grow on many people, and probably myself too, once I see the players wearing it on a regular basis. After all, it’s green, it’s white, and it has a Celtic badge on the front, I’m sure we’d all support Celtic regardless of what they were wearing. I know myself that I’m psychologically wired to like almost anything Celtic related, so I’ll give it time.
And so we come to our second point of contention, “#BeCeltic7″, the hashtag currently being used on Twitter by the Football Club and manufacturers Nike to promote the new kit. Allegedly (and please forgive my natural cynicism on this point) the new kit, and it’s seven broken/unbroken (delete as appropriate) small hoops are a tribute to the past Celtic greats who have worn that famous number – such as Johnstone, Dalglish, Larsson…and Miku.
Unsurprisingly, this claim has been met with ridicule by some supporters; perhaps with good reason. You don’t need to be a genius to notice the link between this shirt design and our new sponsors, Magners Cider. Of course, their logo features barrels with similar lines (or hoops if you like) drawn across them. Critics will point out that “the Magners logo only has six lines, not seven” and they would be right (yes, it’s got to the stage where some of us are counting lines on logos) but, in all seriousness, the parallels are fairly clear to see. Yes, some prototypes initially featured the Tennent’s logo, but I would imagine Celtic knew that Tennent’s would not be our sponsor for 2013/14 some time before we did, and until their sponsorship deal expired, only their logo could appear on our shirts.
The use of “#BeCeltic7″ was pre-empted initially by simply “#BeCeltic”, and the relatively recent addition of the seven has clearly been used in an attempt to pacify the section of the support who dislike the new kit because of the previously discussed broken/unbroken hoops. I don’t think you’ll find too many supporters who will swallow that idea – are the six little white hoops in each big hoop also a tribute to our great number sixes, and our socks a tribute to our famous number two’s because there happens to be a pair of them as part of each kit? Or, in fact, is the combination of six white hoops and seven green hoops a clever, subliminal tribute to the Lisbon Lions and 1967?
Of course, I’m being facetious. All joking aside, one would presume that the Club, in conjunction with their manufacturer, should decide what a kit will look like, and the sponsor should be happy to be there, regardless of which design is chosen; the sponsor shouldn’t have any say as to what the shirt it will feature on will look like (for the record, I’m not claiming that Magners made the decision – of course I have no knowledge of that – this is purely speculative, although many supporters will see what they perceive as a possible correlation between the kit’s design and our new sponsor).
The painfully slow manner in which the Club have chosen to reveal the new kit has also grated with many supporters, as, much to Celtic and Nike’s bemusement, the design of the shirt has been widely publicised online for several months after it was leaked. Clearly, it would have been exciting to see the kit be revealed in such a tantalising manner if it had been kept under wraps, but in the end it turned out to be a bit of a damp squib in that regard.
And now, with the previous issues addressed, we come to pricing – last, but most certainly not least. A new adult’s short sleeved home shirt (with or without sponsor) will set you back a cool £55. If you wanted to add a name and number on the back, it would rise to £67.95. A set of adult shorts are priced at £25, with socks at £12, taking you to a total of £92 for the full kit (£104.95 with shirt printing).
Now, presuming there won’t be too many adults buying full kits, perhaps that isn’t too big an issue. However, where I feel it does become an issue is with regards children’s kits. If, like me, you’re young enough to have been a child when these were available for purchase, you’ll have memories of the excitement of pulling on a new kit, and those same emotions still run through the veins of our younger supporters every time a new kit is released.
And so, if you would like a short sleeve children’s shirt, it will cost you £42. With a name and number printed on the back, it will cost you £54.95 (notably five pence below the total you must spend in order to qualify for free standard UK delivery on the Club’s website). Children’s shorts are £19 each, with no children’s socks available online, you would presumably buy an adult pair, which would cost you another £12, potentially taking your cumulative total to £73 (£85.95 with shirt printing).
For the youngest of the young supporters, “Little Kids” kits come in at a total of £38, whilst “Infants” are priced £32.
And so we come to the crux of the issue – are the prices are too high? They’re competitive with regards other football clubs in England and cheaper than many abroad (a new adult Barcelona shirt would cost you €85, the equivalent of £72.59) but should that matter?
To their credit, the Club’s season ticket pricing this season has been fantastic, and the move to reduce those prices and continue efforts to allow more children to come to Celtic Park must be applauded. However, the question remains – is £54.95 for a child’s shirt with a name and number on the back good value for money?
Perhaps, or perhaps not, depending on your viewpoint, but consider this scenario for a moment – You have two children. This season Celtic will release three kits, only a year after they released another three. Your kids are big Celtic supporters, as are you and your partner, and so you always try to buy some shirts. After all, you like the idea of putting your money directly into the Football Club, rather than into a sports shop or online retailer’s coffers. Both children want a home kit, which you buy. You and your partner would just like a shirt each, and so you buy those. Sometime later, when Christmas comes around, both kids want the away shirt, but not an entire kit, and so you buy them one each, and then look at your bank account – you’ve spent £340, almost the value of an adult season ticket, on shirts/kits in only a few months.
Now, with such a devoted following, this is not an unreasonable scenario in many Celtic supporting households, in my mind at least. Hell, there will be people who want to buy all three kits for their children, and that would cost £219 per child (or £114 if the kid is quite young). Even in the best of times, that would be a big ask for many families, let alone now, amidst tough economic times and high levels of unemployment. Adding into this the cost of television/online subscriptions, season tickets, travel and other bits and bobs and suddenly it’s a lot of money – a lot of money.
Playing the role of devil’s advocate for a moment, there is, of course, a notable trade off here. Yes, the kits are expensive, but the Football Club needs to generate income with which to fund it’s operations and, one way or another, the supporters will generally foot the majority of the bill (sponsors and television do so to some degree also). It would be very easy for me to sit here and say “the shirts are too expensive, the pies are too dear etc” (after all who doesn’t like a good moan – it can be therapeutic!), without any consideration for the Club as a business. Like any business, Celtic have to make money, otherwise the business will stagnate and die, and so the question must be asked when criticising merchandise costs (or anything else for that matter), “are there other ways of making money in the future so that those costs can decrease?”
The answers to this question are critical, and if anyone has any they should, of course, contact the Football Club with these. Personally, I wonder whether increased incentives could be offered to regular buyers and/or season ticket holders (e.g. £10 off the shirt if you’re a season ticket holder or online subscriber overseas), or whether special offers such as kids personalisation for a flat £5 (rather than £12.95) would appeal to the fan base, but ideas such as these would require a detailed knowledge of the Club’s finances to assess sufficiently.
With regards the kit’s design too, I feel Celtic are missing a trick.
With every new kit undoubtedly comes countless ideas and prototypes at the manufacturers, as people try to work out what they can do with green and white hoops that hasn’t been done before. After all, it’s not like the designers would be too popular if they decided to try changing the colours involved, but that’s not the point. The point is that the Club could take a number of these prototypes, and allow it’s own support to vote for which one they would like to see chosen as the new kit. To some degree, this would eliminate the possibility of the majority of supporters disliking a shirt, although there are always bound to be those who complain.
In all, whilst some will love and others will loathe the newest version of the famous green and white hoops of Celtic, I would suggest that the most important issue lies in it’s availability to supporters, especially those of younger generations. I have been quite frivolous in my discussions of the design and release of the new kit, in an attempt to make a potentially dry article somewhat more interesting, but I hope my analysis of the pricing above has helped highlight a serious point.
The Club say that to “#BeCeltic” is to “Belong”, and having the opportunity to wear the same colours as our idols, past and present, is an integral part of that, particularly, once again, for younger generations – perhaps we should all remember that pricing plays a big role in that.
Anyway, the sooner the football season kicks off again and we can all go back to arguing about the game itself the better!