An own goal - are replica football kits too expensive?
Pete Madeley looks at whether replica football kits are too expensive
The average price of a replica Premier League kit has soared over £100 for the first time as fans are asked to dig deeper than ever to support their team.
It is no secret that following top flight football – or any English professional football for that matter – is not an endeavour for the cash-strapped.
Once you’ve bought your match ticket, a programme and a pre-match pie and a pint, you’ll be lucky get change out of 50 quid – and that’s at the cheaper end of the Premier League spectrum.
If you want to look the part, the price rockets, with shirt prices now more expensive than ever before.
The new Manchester United kit, revealed with great pomp and ceremony at an event last week, tops the price charts at £116.85 based on a basic adult short-sleeved shirt, shorts and socks.
However, die-hard fans (or those with more money than sense) can get their hands on a fully printed ‘authentic’ kit – the same one worn by players on matchdays – providing they are willing to shell out £182.85.
According to the club it’s special because of the inclusion of a train-track detail – a homage to the railwaymen of Newton Heath, which was the club’s original name – to mark the Red Devils 140th year.
Fans will make their own minds up.
Other top clubs are also asking supporters to break the bank for kits.
Tottenham’s new strip costs £110, Chelsea’s is £109.85 and Arsenal’s is £92. At £112, Liverpool’s New Balance effort is the second most expensive of them all.
While the average cost of a basic top-flight kit this season comes in at £94.08, it breaks the £100 barrier when additions such as numbers and names are applied.
Wolves popular new Adidas shirt – which sold out of its first batch in no time – comes in as one of the cheapest in the division at £49, with the full adult kit costing £86 at the Molineux club shop.
Southampton’s Under Armor match shirt is the costliest stand-alone of the lot, coming in at a total of £118 when names, numbers and badges are added.
Burnley’s new strip represents the best value in the Premier League, coming in at a total of £75 – with the shirt on its own costing £45.
The reasonable pricing is no accident, with the Clarets actively trying to keep prices low.
The club said in a statement: “Burnley Football Club prides itself on being a community club and our commitment to keeping prices as low as possible reflects this.”
The statement continued; “We have some of the cheapest season ticket prices in the Premier League and one of the cheapest matchday programmes, so the kit is just another way of hopefully giving something back to our loyal fan base.”
Maybe some Championship clubs could do with taking a leaf out of Burnley’s book. Villa’s smart new kit, designed by Walsall-based Villa fan Luke Roper, will set fans back £87, while Albion’s retro Puma strip is £85.
League One Walsall’s new home shirt costs £39 for adults and £27.99 for juniors.
Despite the price hikes, the vast majority of this year’s kits have gone up in price from 2017-18, the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF) maintain strip prices are far from one of the most popular criticisms raised by fans.
“The cost of kits can add up, especially if you have kids, and it would make sense for manufacturers to add a ‘use by’ date,” a spokesman said.
“That way supporters or parents know exactly what they’re getting and can make a decision as to whether the price tag is worth it.
“However, kits aren’t an essential item in the way that tickets are, so this isn’t an issue that a lot of fans approach the FSF to campaign on.”
The FSF statement will raise eyebrows in some quarters, particularly the part about kits not being ‘an essential item’.
Try telling that to the dad who has to deal with little Tommy demanding he spends a day’s wages on a full junior kit.
As for the ‘use by date’ idea, it appears to be rather pointless considering that the vast majority of – if not all – clubs change their strips every season as a matter of course.
It is worth remembering that the FSF only speaks for a small minority of fans, and social media has been full of supporters venting their frustration about rising kit prices.
One thing we should all have learned by now, is to never be surprised at football’s excesses.