When Football Kits Clash!

(Posted on 24/02/14)

Any avid kit watcher may have noticed a curious trend developing this season when it comes to selecting strips for a game.

Most clubs have three different kits tucked away in their kitbag, that are in theory (although this isn't always the case!) able to provide sufficient colour options for any oppositional eventuality.

So why are we seeing more questionable kit clashes than ever before?

We've seen Chelsea play Manchester City three times so far this season. In the game at Stamford Bridge, City sensibly sported their away kit but in the two games played at the Etihad both sides played in their home kits. OK, City's sky blue is considerably lighter than Chelsea's but, when it comes right down to it, they're both still blue! Surely for the sake of MAXIMUM clarity and to prevent visual confusion a Chelsea change strip would have been a more sensible choice? Chelsea have a black third kit this year - why couldn't that have been worn? Wouldn't this be better for players and supporters alike? Not to mention the referee who really should have put a stop to this nonsense before kick off.

A worse kit clash crime took place in the Cup this month though with Swansea actually changing their kit to create a clash when playing at Everton. Instead of their traditional white, The Swans' donned purple which caused problems when butted up to Everton's blue. It was only the yellow chest panel on the Swansea jersey that really helped tell each team apart. Was this because Swansea's white shorts clashed with Everton's white pairs (shorts clashes not an issue in the Premier League though of course)? Common sense again dictates that they then should have worn black change shorts (as they have always done in the past) not change the whole strip to one very similar to their opponents!! Madness!

Manchester City were involved in another arguable clash when West Ham paid a visit in the Capital Cup. Rather than wear their familiar claret the Hammers decided to wear their white shirts that many would say caused some degree of a clash - certainly more than their home jerseys would have. When you take into consideration that City were wearing white shorts and white socks and West Ham light blue shorts and socks then you have a very questionable kit situation. Interestingly City changed in the return leg at The Boleyn Ground.

We are also seeing an increase in red clad clubs playing teams in claret without changing kits (e.g. Nottingham Forest vs Burnley). Traditionally this has always been considered a clash (especially in bright sunlight) - so why not now?

Is this rather haphazard and ill-considered kit selection due to teams desperately wanting to maintain the colour integrity of their visual identity as is often the case in Gaelic football where teams are loathe to don away strips? Possible, but unlikely given that some clubs wear an away kit several times a season even when there isn't a clash. Reason for this of course is that many kit contracts stipulate the strip must be worn a set number of times per season in order to give maximum exposure to the outfit with the purpose of generating replica sales.

Are evening games the cause with some clubs reluctant to wear darker strips during these matches? I know from watching Southend v Millwall recently that even under floodlights Southend's navy shirts did get lost in the crowd, especially compared to Millwall's lurid orange strip. Again, this is possible but then why have a dark strip in the first place if its not fit for purpose? Again we're coming back to replica sales. Black/navy shirts are always popular with supporters but first and foremost a shirt has a job to do on the pitch, not the terraces.

Maybe it’s a conscious decision. For some reason just maybe some sides must believe that not having a clear difference between their kit and that of their opponents may give them an advantage and therefore deliberately create confusion. But of course it would have the same effect for both teams.

Whatever the reason, it defies logic and common sense and brings into doubt the purpose of having 3 kits per season if they are not going to be called into duty when necessary.