This summer we’ve seen how several Premier League clubs have unveiled football kits for the new season that are inspired by retro designs from yesteryear. Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and West Ham United, just to name a few. But when you think about it, are clubs peddling retro to sell more than just football shirts? And if so, why stop there?
The reason retro sells is because it’s a proven winning formula, it’s hip, it harkens back to a time when the world was a better and safer place, and – most importantly of all – it sells. Plus, in many ways, it’s easier. For example, the design of Arsenal’s home jersey remained practically the same from 1933 to 1965. Sure, there were minimal changes in those years, but essentially the design stayed the same for 32 years. Nowadays, the Arsenal home shirt changes every two years or less. But after a while, whether it’s Arsenal or any other soccer team, you have to wonder how difficult it must be to create an original design when all you’re doing is essentially reinventing the wheel each time.
So rather than creating uninspiring new designs, it’s easier and better to go back in time and tap into what worked before. The same could apply for many other aspects of English football. Here are my suggestions of what else can be turned retro in the Premier League:
- Soccer boots/cleats. I’m getting a bit sick of the bright purple and orange boots as well as all of the other colors under the rainbow. What if Adidas could be a leader in boots again with a classy and retro black boot with it’s famous three white stripes along the side?
- Soccer balls. There is something beautiful about a classic design of a soccer ball. Take the Telstar, for example — the ball from the 1970 World Cup. Or the ball from the 1982 World Cup, the Tango. Just like the classic cleats, the two balls are from Adidas also.
- Stadiums. Take the majority of new stadiums built in the past decade and many of them look practically identical. And because they look like carbon copies of each other, the stadiums lack the original character that makes them feel unique. In the old days, you could see a quick snapshot of one stand and instantly tell whether it was Manchester City’s old Maine Road ground, Southampton’s Dell or one of many other unique stadiums in England. Not that they are the model to follow, but stadium designers need to consider the past and how unique the designs were when building grounds of the future. Even Arsenal has decided to rename parts of their Emirates Stadium after the old stands at Highbury to inject a bit of personality and familiarity into the ground. Other clubs should consider doing the same at their plastic stadiums.
- Safe standing. The Premier League and government doesn’t want it, but many supporters do. Returning to safe standing sections at football grounds would be a way to create better atmospheres in grounds, encourage singing and to generate a better overall experience for many fans. It’s a proven model in Germany where it’s used in many Bundesliga grounds. And it could work in England if only the authorities would give it a chance. Sadly, they probably see it as a slippery slope and a partial loss of control, so it may never happen. But we can dream.
It’s hard for football clubs to invent new things when reverting back to retro can be the easier solution. It may not necessarily be the best, but it’s often the safest bet.