What a difference a year or so makes. Earlier this week, Footy Boots brought you a fantastic image of Wayne Rooney, walking the streets in his pristine, new England kit followed by a pack of 3 Lions.
The image was issued under the Umbro banner which, as they make the kit, isn’t too surprising. However, the fact that Rooney was the sole player involved is. For the reasons why, we need to go back to when the last England kit was launched.
Wayne Rooney shows off the new England home kit
On that occasion, an almighty row broke out between Umbro and Nike. Nike was concerned that group pictures of England players, including Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Paul Robinson, could be easily edited in such a way that individual images of the players could be used on point of sale materials. This would have gone against the personal deals each player had with Nike at the time.
Furthermore, Umbro’s deal with the FA, as then and now, specifies that all England players must only appear in groups of four or more for promotional purposes in order to prevent exploitation of those individuals who have deals with other competing sportswear brands.
The dispute reached such a level that the FA was forced to step in and find a compromise to keep both brands happy.
The latest England home kit
This time round things have gone a different way. As they now own Umbro, Nike have decided to yield somewhat. This could be because they’ve come over all ‘ultra generous’ though it’s more likely that someone has pointed out that the profits from England shirt and kit sales will end up in the Oregon treasure chest. Indeed, as was reported in the Daily Telegraph, Nike even had a hand in preparing the Rooney picture. Good job they remembered to stick him in a striking pair of Total 90 Laser II’s!
One thing is certain. The launch of the new England kit saw Umbro raise their game considerably which was understandable with their new Nike paymasters watching closely on. Previous England kit launches have gone spectacularly wrong. This one, with its cloak and dagger build up went off OK, though getting the players to remove their tracksuits moments before the National Anthem for maximum affect probably wasn’t the best call of all time.
Background material from Harbottle & Lewis