Sunday, 12 April 2009

The style mill begins to grind

What next for the Blue shirt of Manchester?

As this season of upheaval enters its final few weeks, many City fans are undoubtedly looking forward with eagerness to a summer of excitement. The most obvious driver of this enthusiasm is the club's anticipated activity in the transfer market. The new found depth of our pockets means that we will continue to be linked with every footballing talent under the sun. Villa. Terry. Ribery. Henry. Cannavaro and er...Kenwyne Jones.

But that's not the whole picture. It seems the average City fan is also mightily concerned about his or her personal image. I for one am a part of this group. For years, we've not had much to shout about in terms of a decent home kit. Away kits have been slightly better, but not massively. I think we have to hark back to the glory days of the late 1960s, early 1970s before we can say that we had a truly great, stylish kit.

In my eyes, a big part of why we've not had much to shout about in the shirt department recently is down to the fact that, since Brother, we've had a string of shite sponsors. A computer game firm with a naff sounding name (Eidos), a sponsor that sounded like a counselling service (First Advice) and a cheapo travel company (Thomas Cook). More importantly, the logos of all these were crap.

But as our summer of intrigue approaches, things may be changing. The new owners are clearly not content with our current shirt deal. The new name in the frame now increasingly appears to be 'Ethiad', the national airline of the United Arab Emirates. With the Abu Dhabi connection outed in the press, Garry Cook (City's Chief Executive who was tempted away from his high flying marketing position with Nike to join the Blue Empire) summed things up well: "The market is worldwide. You have to look at our brand and our brand looks like Thomas Cook. And there's something not right about sitting in a bar in Bangkok or Beijing or Tokyo and seeing 'Fred Smith's plumbing. Call 0161...' There's something not right about that, so you have to think on a global stage."

And I must say I have to agree with him.

The fallout of Cook's words has, of course, had an impact at grass roots level. Already City fans are coming up with the shirt and kit sponsor bgvhgcombinations of their dreams. The most concrete rumour appears to be an Ethiad shirt sponsor combined with a return to City's kit sponsor of old - Umbro. This image showed up on the web a few weeks ago:

Not great but not bad either. I'd have to see it in the flesh before I'd consider buying it.

Whoever concocted this hybrid deserves a high flying branding job at Thomas Cook. I never thought I'd say the Thomas Cook logo would look cool but this person has certainly managed to make it so. Its has probably got something to do with Adidas being the kit sponsor, and as outline above, the days of Thomas Cook are likely numbered - but this is still a great effort.

This is my personal favorite. Although it is obvious that this couldn't stand up as as home kit, it is definately third kit potential. For those that don't know, this design goes back to City's roots - the 1880s in fact - when City were known more commonly as St. Mark's (West Gorton), the club's founding name. The black strip and the white cross of St. Mark's, in combination with the Ethiad name and any well known shirt sponsor, would be a winning formula for a third kit.

Whatever happens, its clear that we City fans are in need of a style facelift in keeping with our new global ambitions. The words of Cook, the owners in Abu Dhabi, and Mark Hughes are all promising and all point towards City thinking big both on and off the pitch. However, there's just one small problem: did anyone think to check the English translation of Ethiad? The word on the street is that it means 'United'.

Only City would opt for a sponsor that places the names of their arch rivals on the Blue shirt of Manchester.

No comments:

Post a Comment