The FA Cup, once the pinnacle for players and fans alike, has perhaps seen its star fade in this modern era of big money football. 

However, this weekends 3rd round is being played out with some great matches across the country pitting many of the lower league teams against Premiership titans with plenty of top flight teams knocked out.

In this respect the romance is very much alive with strong attendances and hordes of fans crossing the country to watch their beloved team. 

There were lots of talking points and VAR was once again but from a sport business perspective there was one aspect that I loved – the Chelsea Retro shirt.

Chelsea FC decided to celebrate their 1970 FA Cup victory by wearing a new ‘retro’ shirt celebrating the side that beat Leeds United 2-1 in the 1970 FA Cup final replay in Manchester. 

The updated shirt, created by shirt sponsor Nike and showcased on the Chelsea FC website, mirrored the then unique shirt that was created especially for that game. The old logo was re-introduced and modern materials were used to ensure that it adhered to the increased vigour of the modern game and also the technological standards of todays elite sportswear. 

But one of the most interesting aspects was the support from club partners; Nike, Yokohama Tyres and Hyundai. They all agreed to have their logos placed on the shirts in a ‘tone on tone’ colour, essentially making them invisible to TV viewers and spectators alike.

It shows the strength of the relationship the club must have with its partners to allow this unique situation where their branding, essentially one of the core pillars of their sponsorship investment, will not have been visible. Ultimately the sponsor’s trust in the club, and their willingness to do something outside the norm, paid off as the unique and stylish design delivered stand-out not just on the pitch, but talkability across social and traditional media. I have no doubt the shirt will be a huge success through the club store. 

There are many clubs who do incorporate more general elements of past designs into their kits throughout the season and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues in football, with the shirts being produced for specific matches and competitions. The NBA, NFL, MLB and others have all successfully had their teams play in retro uniforms which adds another dimension to the games and allows them to celebrate and showcase their heritage. 

For anyone that loves some retro themed kit check out The North Curve which I recently found out about for some great nostalgic products.

Phil Cotton

Author Phil Cotton

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