A Word From Our Sponsors

The collapse of the holiday firm XL has had a significant effect on tens of thousands of tourists that found themselves stranded without anywhere to go on holiday, and it also caused an unusual sight on Saturday evening’s “Match Of The Day”. XL were the shirt sponsors of West Ham United, and the sudden non-existence of the company meant that West Ham took the field for their match with no sponsor’s name on their shirts. With serendipitous timing, West Ham’s opponents were West Bromwich Albion, who have themselves been unable to secure themselves a satisfactory shirt sponsorship deal since the start of the season. The result was a match that had, at least in some respects, not been seen since the early 1980s. Shirt sponsorship first became an issue in the mid-1970s when Southern League club Kettering Town, under the tutelage of the former Wolves midfielder Kenny Hibbitt, took the field in new shirts sponsored by “Kettering Tyres”. When the FA barred the club from wearing them, they shortened the words to read “Kettering T”, claiming, somewhat disingenuously, that it merely now said “Kettering Town”. It took another eight years before this innovation began to filter through to the top divisions. Sponsorship was finally formally allowed on shirts from 1983, limited to sixteen square inches, with lettering no bigger than two inches high if the match was to be...

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