France switches from Adidas to Nike, other notable kit switches – the good, bad and ugly
Les Blues (French National Football Team) recently unveiled their new home kits for 2011/12. They will be worn in Euro 2012 qualifying, friendlies, and most likely the Euro 2012 tournament if the French qualify. These new kits are the first one designed for France by American giants Nike, replacing Adidas after a partnership of over two decades with the Dasler boys. It definitely seems like Nike used some of their “Tailored by Umbro” designers for this as like the England kits, it is simple, yet bleeds class and elegance. My favorite feature is that parts of the sleeves roll up to show red stripes, definitely a nice touch and they can be worn up or down. The likes of Samir Nasri, Karim Benzema, Yoann Gourcuff and Mahmadou Sakho will be looking good as France looks to return to glory.
However, this notable kit manufacturer switch made me think, what other clubs have switched kit suppliers and what has been the results? Well just for that, I present 6 notable teams who switched kit providers and had a combination of success, failure, and absolute visual terror.
Manchester United – 2002 – Umbro –> Nike – Same
Umbro manufactured some historic kits for United, from the eyesore-Sheffield Wednesday-esque blue shirt, to the gray shirt that was SUPPOSED to look good with jeans, but also the three excellent shirts from the Treble Campaign of 1998-99. Nike signed a then record breaking, £302.9 million deal to acquire Man United’s rights from August 2002 over the course of five seasons. Nike has made some great kits for United (especially the 07-08 season) but they have also made some clunkers (2009-10 Home, 2010-11 Away) so I will say its about the same on this one because the seamless transition seemed to keep United’s shirts at least decent looking over the past nine years since the changeover.
Chelsea – 2006 – Umbro –> Adidas = Jury’s Out
It’s almost a toss up here. I personally like the Umbro centenary shirt pictured (why it’s only 1 of 2 Chelsea shirts I own) but the Adidas one is not terrible. However, Chelsea fans will remember that Adidas graced them with the traffic yellow away shirt from 2007-08, but also the incredibly classy all black look from 2008-09. Much like United, we will need to keep watching Adidas to see if they keep the kits in good standing like Umbro did. Because of that, the jury is still deliberating.
Manchester City – 2009 – Le Coq Sportif –> Umbro = GOOD
From 2007-09, Manchester City had Le Coq Sportif as a kit provider, LCS was not terrible, but I had seen better home kits for the Citizens. Umbro signed on as kit designer in early 2009 and unleashed a complete rehash of City’s uniforms. Combining with new sponsor Etihad Airways, the tailored by Umbro campiagn launched an incredibly sucesful new set of home away and third kits. A draw back to City’s rich history, the new kits were an instant hit with fans and thanks to Umbro, City kits are now amongst the EPL Top 10 best selling shirts, and City are one of the best dressed teams in the EPL. Easily, this kit switch was Excellent for City.
Newcastle United – 2010 – Adidas –> Puma = UGLY
2007-09 (Good NUFC Home Shirt by Adidas)
Oh Newcastle United, Adidas had provided you with some of the best kits in the past twenty years during your long contract. Now I will easily admit, there was no reason for Adidas to give you that eyesore of a yellow away shirt last year, but the home shirt was quite decent, but still a bit plain. Then, Adidas got replaced by Puma this last summer, its not that the kit is ugly, but being totally black and white with no gold or light blue accents makes it quite dull, and a full downgrade from las season’s Championship kit. Puma, the jury is still out on your for the Toon, but as of now, it qualifies as just plain Ugly.
Everton – 2009 – Umbro –> Le Coq Sportif = GOOD
Ok, so maybe it took LCS a year to get a bad design out of the way, but just look at that current home shirt compared to two years ago, there is something about it that just “pops” more, and its nice they killed off the unnecessary white trim. Not to hate on Umbro, but this was Pre-Tailored by Umbro, so I am not suprised that the Toffees switched suppliers, and it seemed to work out well for Everton (I personally love the hot pink away uniform for this season, but many of the supporters have complained.)
Olympique Lyon – 2010 – Umbro –> Adidas = GOOD
Recently I can’t say that I am a fan of Adidas current templates (my favorite were used in the 2006 World cup, and through 2007-08 for club teams.) But this is clearly an upgrade. Honestly, last year when I learned that Umbro did Lyon, I wondered why they were even dealing with Ligue 1 in the first place. But this worked out for both sides. Umbro improved kits for the brands they still supply while Adidas made a much needed upgrade for the highly successful French side. This easily qualifies as a change that was, and still is Good.
Well there you have it, some of the more notable teams to switch kit suppliers and how those decisions affected teams. I’ll be back later this week with the second of our guest contributions for the week. Until then – J