Following on from my previous post chronologising the 10 best kits of the upcoming 2019/2020 season, I feel that its only fair to provide the opposite side of the coin with some exposure, with the 10 worst kits of the 2019/2020 season from Britain and Ireland.
READ MORE: 2019/20 best new kits ranked: Arsenal above Tottenham with stylish Adidas designs, plus Newcastle, Crystal Palace and Leeds
10 – Liverpool, Third
Entering their fifth season using Boston-based New Balance kits, Liverpool’s third kit for the 2019/2020 season is a story of what ifs. With a stylish white, red and black away number complimenting their trademark red home, a dark selection for the club’s third shirt made a lot of sense. The club’s official shpiel lists the colourway as phantom black and tidepool and claims inspiration for the graphic spread accross the face of the shirt is taken from the design of street signs within the City.
Regardless of the unneccessary colour names, I do quite like the colour scheme, notably the tidepool, which is inspired by the colour of the Liver birds that sit atop the Royal Liver building in the City’s centre. What I don’t like is the graphic accross the entire front of the shirt. Upon closer inspection, you can see New Balance’s intentions come to life, with the shape of the Liverpool street signs present in each individual piece. However, spreading this accross the entirety of the shirt with a diagionally applied hint of tidepool, is gaudy and from afar, the dozens of individual pieces combine to look like a chain-link fence, reminiscent of professional wrestler Scott Steiner’s entrance gear, rather than the thoughtful nod to Liverpool’s culture.
The club’s sponsors, Standard Chartered and Western Union also fail to compliment the club’s colour scheme, choosing to remain in white, whereas an adoption of the tidepool would have been a lot slicker. If it wasn’t for the clubs rather pleasant choice of colours, this kit could have been a lot lower.
9 – Swansea City, Home & Away
I’ve bent the rules here a little as the kits aren’t actually too bad. The home is simple – white with black accents, the accents being a little too thickly laid on, pun intended. The away is black with a turqouise, loosely striped gradient. Spanish creators Joma have done an average 5/10 with the kits; nothing special, nothing embarrassingly horrific, even the overseas betting sponsor is suprisingly subtle. However, that changes with Joma’s own announcement video of the kits via their Twitter account. 180-degree-no-scope volleys and THAT chest control, this is quite possibly the worst video reveal I’ve ever seen.
This morning saw the launch of the official Swansea City AFC 2019/20 kits.
— Joma Sport UK (@JomaSportUK) July 3, 2019
8 – Barnsley, Away
The first of several entries from German brand, Puma, the Barnsley away kit is surprisingly subtle compared to some of the shirts you’ll see further down the list. That being said, it’s still pretty bad, and like the Liverpool shirt previously, is a story of what ifs.
The colour scheme for this kit could have lead to something special; navy blue and gold is a wonderful mix, whilst the tonal crest is a nice touch. However, the kit’s potential was destroyed the minute Puma decided to slap on their horrific universally-used graphic for the 2019/2020 season that they’ve called Flux. Plastered accross the sleeves and chest, the design looks like something you’d find on an old-school Microsoft Powerpoint default slide background or by shining a light through an angled prism. It’s just too much. If the design was limited to just the shoulder section, this would have been infinitely nicer, and even better if it replaced the navy block stripe stemming from the neck to the shoulder. A great colour scheme ruined by a ludicrous design.
7 – Wigan Athletic, Home
Puma. Again. Not the same design as Barnsley’s, but whilst the Barnsley shirt had a beautiful pair of colours, the Wigan Athletic strip has the complete opposite. Blue, white pin-stripes and a chunky green collar and cuffs display a bold look. ‘Blue and Green should never be seen, except with…Lionel Messi inbetween?’ as the old proverb may have once voiced. I’m no fashionista by any means, but it doesn’t take the presence of one to be able to identify the issue with this colour scheme, as they clash more than Millwall and West Ham United in a League Cup tie.
The white pin-stripes and the blue base are a great look, even if the foreign betting sponsor (what? another one?) from KB88 doesn’t feature the same shade of blue, but the green is horrific. It’s not just bad on a complimentary colour level, the application of how the green is used accentuates the issue. An ugly thick-banded rounded collar and a giant green cuff section that would dwarf a captain’s armband throws this kit into the hall of shame for me. It’s a shame as I think the kit could have been quite nice had the green usages been more subtle. A tidier looking collar and a thin band on the cuffs would have been superior in every way possible.
6 – Celtic, Third
A second New Balance entry on the list, from North of the border this time, Celtic’s third shirt has good intentions, but lacks excecution. Decked in grey and berry pink, the glaringly obvious bold chevron design placed low on the shirt is sure to turn heads this forthcoming season. The chevron addition is based upon a design used 100 years ago during the 1919/1920 season, when the colour scheme was a tradition green and white and the chevron was positioned higher, off the shoulders and down to the centre of the chest.
Whilst I quite like New Balance‘s approach to re-introduce the berry pink they first used for the all-pink 2016/2017 away shirt, the positioning of the chevron is questionable. Veering away from Celtic’s traditional colour palette, the complimentary grey and pink is teamed with a crest and the logos of New Balance and Dafabet also in pink. However, the potential of this shirt was nuked when they decided to position the chevron below the shirt sponsor, something unsurprisingly we’ve very rarely seen in the football and for good reason.
5 – West Bromwich Albion, Third
Remember the rather obnoxious Puma design that took up a third of the Barnsley away shirt from above? Well here’s that same design, but with the previously absent remaining two-thirds also occupied.
Used in tandem to announce the signing of Romaine Sawyer’s from Brentford, back is Puma’s Flux design, but this time it covers the entirety of the shirt. Fortunately, the shorts and socks have escaped the design, otherwise Sky may have had to issue a seizure public service announcement any time the Baggies were televised this season. A vivid shade of purple referred to as prism violet accompanies white to form a wave design that is sure to create headlines, probably for the wrong reasons. The combination of colours are a little redundant too, given the home shirt’s already existing navy blue and white, not offering too much visual separation between the two shirts.
4 – Plymouth Argyle, Away
Back-to-back Puma Flux designs, as somehow Plymouth Argyle have managed to usurp West Brom’s efforts. A number of reasons as to why: firstly, the shirt is registered as the club’s away shirt, meaning the club have a green and white home shirt and a green and white away shirt – splendid. Granted the shades of green used are Argyle green and Pepper green, but nonetheless, they’re still green. Secondly, that Flux design isn’t something I’m a massive fan of, and finally, the absolute non-commital to the design. The design is bad as it is, but Plymouth and Puma have decided to sit on the fence with the application.
Whilst the Barnsley use the design in a partial manner and the West Brom have gone gung-ho, Plymouth have dipped a toe, not liked the temperature, but then not been boisterous enough to speak up. The design covers the entirety of the base of the shirt, but stops at the shoulders. The shoulders then form a basic design that features a predominantly white sleeve and chunky green cuffs that were also seen on the Wigan Athletic home shirt. A rounded white-ribbed collar finishes the kit.
I feel like there’s only two ways to tackle this dislikable design and that is to use it like the aforementioned Barnsley and West Brom. Either use it partially or fully, Plymouth have managed to strike a chord right inbetween the two and came out worse, procrastinating on whether they wanted to finish the kit, or bail out.
3 – Southampton, Home, Away & Third
Quite easily the worst set of kits to grace the British Isles this season will be that of Southampton. Sensationally, they’ve managed to team up with Under Armour to produce THREE very bad kits, all featuring near-identical templates.
The home features the club’s traditional red and white stripes, accompanied by an eye-watering black panel high upon the chest rising over the shoulders. This continues to the back of the shirt, where the black panel remains on the reverse, ending abruptly. A double-banded cuff is black and white and is the only redeeming quality of the kit. The enormity of the black panel and the thick stripes, makes this shirt look like something Konami would put together in order to semi-replicate Southampton’s colours for their non-licensed Pro Evolution Soccer pseudonym, Hampshire Reds.
The away is black with yellow and features the same design minus the club’s traditional striping, reserved predominantly for their home kits. The chest panel returns, this time in yellow, with angled lines bending sharply accross the design without any fluid curvature. The cuffs feature an out-of-placed yellow band, similiar to the home kit, but without a secondary colour.
The third is arguably the nicest of the trio, with a white based and navy and red sections. The chest panel is navy, with red lines in the same vein as the away kits, whilst the cuffs are navy and red, taking the same design of the home kit.
All three kits feature a rather unique single-buttoned collar, but fall foul to the trope of the ugly sponsor, this time the culprit is Chinese sports content, marketing and performance brand, LD Sports’ light-blue and white insignia. Virgin remains with the club, now occupying the shirt sleeves. The red and white logo fits nicely with the home and third shirts, but refusal to alter the logo’s colours for the away shirt leaves the black and yellow number with an attention seeking red and white circular logo.
2 – Manchester City, Away & Third
After signing a multi-year deal with German brand, Puma, the self-proclaimed fourmidables head into the 2019/2020 season with high hopes once more, having won last season’s Community Shield, League Cup, FA Cup and Premier League trophies.
However, that touch of elegance the club portray on the field with their slick, champagne football has not been replicated by Puma’s debut efforts for the clubs change strips. Both the club’s away and third shirts are far from pleasing and some of the worst in world football, let alone within their native region. Added disappointment comes from the fact that neither of three kits released this season, seem to honour the club’s history as the embark on their 125th anniversary.
The away kit is black with detailing in the form of a right shoulder stripe. In an eye-catching yellow and black, Puma say the design is a reference to the world-famous Hacienda night club that was a staple of the Madchester scene of the 1980s and 1990s. The yellow and black angled design adorned the structural beams within the nightclub until it’s closure in 1997. The shirt is finished with alternating usage of peach and City blue, on either cuff of the shirt, with the club’s sleeve sponsor, Nexen Tires, and the Puma logo, also adopting this trend. The club’s title sponsor, Etihad Airways is yellow, replicating that of the Hacienda-inspired sleeve design.
I admire Puma’s thinking and intentions behind their thought processes but the there is just far too much going on at once. Without context, the shirt just makes no sense with the yellow and black stripe looking like someone threw the shirt into an episode of Robot Wars and let Sir Killalot have his merry way with it. The peach and City blue fail to compliment the shoulder design, let alone each other and even less so the alternation in application. Puma have vowed to continue to use Manchester’s historic musical culture for inspiration, so don’t be surprised, nor appalled next season when they release a green Parka-printed change shirt with an optionable bucket hat and shades.
The third is bizarre; described as a yellow and peach gradient, neither the club nor Puma have decided to shoehorn in some long-winded loosely believable reason for the design and have simply stated that it represents the club’s ‘on-field brilliance‘ and their ‘mission to play attractive, technically-skilled, attacking football’.
There’s not much to describe about the shirt apart from the fact that it’s almost half-and-half yellow and peach in ratio, with yellow settling on the top of the shirt and peach on the bottom. A black rounded-collar is met with black logos in the daring but garish release that evokes images of of raspberry ripple ice-cream and rhubarb and custards – a stupendous confectionary.
1 – Huddersfield Town, Home
So this one may take some explaining and some justification. I know full well that the kit with the Paddy Power sash is not regulation, and as such ‘fake’, despite being worn in a pre-season friendly, believe me when it comes to what is and what is not legal on an advertising level within football I know a little too much for my own good.
My issue here isn’t the real kit at all, the blue and white stripes are nice with navy bordering the stripes in Umbro’s slick effort, my issue is Paddy Power. Whilst I am fully behind football teams being able to wear clean, crisp sponsorless shirts, I am fully against any involvement that Paddy Power have in doing so. As of the time of publication, the Irish bookmaker has partnered with Huddersfield, Motherwell, Newport County and Southend United in a campaign named ‘Save our Shirt‘, with the quartet of clubs donning sponsorless kits for the forthcoming campaign.
But the ugly truth is that in order for the clubs to be able to carry this out, Paddy Power are backing them, having essentially bought the club’s title advertising space. Clubs of this size are not capable of playing an entire season ‘sponsorless’ and the betting firm have inserted themselves into the equation as a faux good samaritan, in order to push forward their own marketing stunt using the clubs as a placeholder, likely in an attempt to amend some of the bad public relations they’ve encountered due to previous controversial stunts. I don’t personally think Paddy Power care about the clubs they’re partnering, nor do I think they care about the magnitude of sponsorship in football; its something they rely on to exist.
In fact, I believe that due to the gargantuan number of sponsors within the game currently, notably, rival gambling companies, Paddy Power’s self-created monopoly actually benefits them as by purchasing the advertising space of the club’s they’ve partnered with, it stops rival, budding betting firms from sponsoring them instead.
Huddersfield recently lost it’s lucrative deal with OPE Sports, a Chinese betting firm after relegation from the Premier League, whilst Scotland’s Motherwell were sponsored by Bet Park for the 2018/2019 season. Newport County were backed by Interbet last year, whilst only Southend have steered clear of betting backers in recent years. The Essex natives have been sponsored by charitable organisations The Amy May Trust and Prostate Cancer UK over the past two seasons.
So whilst Paddy may have removed shirt sponsors from view, all they’ve done is further their monopoly of the betting industry, replacing three fellow gambling brands and blocking Southend’s continuation of spreading the name of genuinely good organisations. Furthermore, a gambling firm trying to cleanse the game of sponsorship is irony at it’s finest, given that we’ll be bombarded with Paddy Power’s adverts every few minutes during a broadcast.