The New England Shirt: The Most Overhyped Football Shirt Ever?

15 By Ian  |   The Ball  |   March 24, 2009  |     11

It all started a few weeks ago. Footballshirtculture posted up a picture of a kit that was rumoured to be the new England football shirt. We ran the story on here, too. It was a pretty revolting shirt, as it goes, and it started to become apparent pretty soon afterwards that this shirt was either one from the cutting room floor or, and this would be a considerably more interesting, a fake that was “put out there” by Umbro, the manufacturers, to throw the football shirt geeks off the scent. If the latter happened to be true (and I should point out that this is my own crackpot theory), it would lend a little meat to something a bit strange that has been going on recently.

Ten years or so ago, Umbro were the biggest cheeses in British football kit manufacturing. Over the last decade, however, they have lost some of their biggest contracts, including Manchester United and Chelsea. Whilst they retain the England shirt franchise, however, they retain a position of strength within the industry. The England shirt remains one of the best selling in the world and, no matter what the relative weaknesses of the actual team, the white shirt remains one of the most iconic in world football. It means a lot to Umbro, and losing that contract (which they have held – with a small hiatus between 1974 and 1983, when the contract was handed to Admiral – since roughly the beginning of time) would be a massive loss. The last England shirt was one of the least inspiring of all time, so this time they had to get it right.

It is due to be unveiled on Saturday for the home friendly against Slovakia and, as one might suspect, the actual shirt itself is a closely guarded secret. Reading the Umbro website gives away much about the process that they are going through without actually telling anyone what it actually looks like. They have brought in a Savile Row tailor, Charles Allen, to assist with the design with a focus that is said to centre on heritage and tailoring. Presumably this attention to detail is the reason why the shirt will be selling at £50 a go, which some have commented is a somewhat unsavoury price rise, all things considered.

More intriguingly still, a second “leaked” picture appeared on a couple of blogs, including EPL Talk, this week, but were hastily taken down after requests from the publishers of FourFourTwo magazine, who apparently have first call on showing it in public. For the benefit of people that didn’t get to see it when it was available to see, it’s a plain white shirt with white collars, no unnecessary adornments and no trimmings. The England badge is embroidered and will have the name of each country that they play put immediately underneath it. It’s a very nice looking shirt, about as much as one could expect, though some have commented that it looks a little too much like a white polo shirt. The photo suggests that they may be wearing white shorts with it, though this remains unconfirmed. Something of a preview of it is available here.

Quite why everybody is getting in such a tizz about this new shirt is a matter of some mystery. If all of this kerfuffle has been manufactured by Umbro, then one has to doff ones cap to their marketing department. They have created quite a mountain from this partcular molehill. Ultimately, what really matters is what is in the shirt, and the fact of the matter is that most people wouldnt give two damns what they’re wearing if they surpass everybody’s expectations, qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals and make a decent go of it once they’re there.



Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

  • March 25, 2009 at 12:07 am

    Gervillian Swike

    While it is true that a shirt becomes a great icon because of what those who wore it achieved – hence England’s Gazza’s tears shirt of 1990 and the turquoise-trimmed shirt of 1996 being remembered with much more fondness than would otherwise be warranted – I’m sure that there is something in the theory that a crap shirt is indicative of a crap team. Not exclusively of course – Brazil’s 2002 strip was appalling, and West Brom’s strip this year is probably the best in the league – but generally. Derby last year, Middlesbrough this, Sheffield United’s “Tevez” strip, Bradford in 2000, Barnsley in 1997, and England for the last two home strips. Co-incidence????

    Yes okay, probably co-incidence.

  • March 26, 2009 at 10:44 pm


    ‘Ten years or so ago, Umbro were the biggest cheeses in British football kit manufacturing. Over the last decade, however, they have lost some of their biggest contracts, including Manchester United and Chelsea.’

    Fear not because, as of next season, Umbro will be supplying kits to one of the most special clubs in world football. Athletic Bilbao.

  • March 27, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    The New England Shirt Is Leaked, And… Well… - Twohundredpercent

    […] Update: Don’t think I can’t see you all reading this. There is an upate to this story here. […]

  • March 28, 2009 at 5:26 pm


    Its white – all white.

    Nice, but…

  • March 28, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    John Hannaford

    The design of this shirt is absolute garbage, basically a white polo shirt with a badge sewn on and £40 a pop

  • March 29, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Trev Taylor

    I agree with John, a polo shirt with a badge. On the Umbro and Kitbag website the shirts for me (Large 42′) is £49.99. This is a disgrace bearing in mind Sports Direct sell the away shirt for £4.49. It just goes to show how these shirts really retail for.

  • March 29, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    Eric The Gutted

    The new shirt is the worst England shirt for years and years, it looks like a 2 quid primark t-shirt or a Sunday market badly designed snide effort. Having bought the last 10 shirts i am sorry to say this one will not be going in to my collection.

  • March 30, 2009 at 5:17 pm

    Mark Standing

    I think it’s terrible. Then again I hate polo shirts, and realise I’m probably in a minority on that. They looked like the England cricket team or something.

    Collars don’t have a place in football kits, and ‘button up’ things shouldn’t exist in 21st century football. Either a circle or V neck would be my preference for a football kit. Simple, tasteful and modern.

    Roll on the next kit, and fast please.

  • March 30, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    steve naas

    Well we have all seen the new england home shirt,if thats what you call’s basicly a cheap polo shirt with an even cheaper looking 3 lions badge stuck on it.i think it’s back to the drawing board,bring back the late 80’s & 90’s when football shirts were football shirts,if thats not bad enough there £40-50 a pop thats cash well saved.

  • March 31, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Mark Howells

    Without doubt the worst England shirt in my lifetime (and i’m 40!). It is a polo shirt with an umbro badge and an England badge. If that took more than 5 minutes to design then i’d be amazed.
    Get down to Sports Direct where the old white shirt is £3.99 quickly, before they sell out!

    Umbro, you have made the least appealing England shirt ever. Congratulations on messing up your licence to print money big time!

    Honestly, how many children are going to want to wear that? Please do not do the same with the away shirt…..

  • April 1, 2009 at 8:27 pm


    I’ve given Umbro some well deserved stick over the last few years in as much as the England and Sweden kits were the SAME only in different colours, and I looked upon the England Kit designers as Lazy, Cash grabbing unimaganative bandit’s not worthy of their post or salary. With this kit, they have sunken lower than even the hardest cynic like myself could have dreamed possible. The’ve taken a white Polo shirt, stuck a cheap looking three lions badge upon it, a pointless tacky red diamond and a WHITE star that can hardly be seen on it’s WHITE background. Added to that….. well they haven’t added anything to that and basically done bugger all. To sell this shirt for £50 is ludicrous and as one person has already stated, get yourself down to Primark and buy yourself a £2 polo shirt and embroider an old England Badge on it. Umbro should have this contract snatched back from them until they prove themselves worthy that they should have it. Even Admiral shirts were better than this. Bring back the 1982 design. Probably THE best England shirt of all time.

  • April 2, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    Peter Dunn

    well i love it, your all probablys to fat to look good in a polo shirt. Its a smart shirt made to look very retro, its ment to look like the good old world cup winning days and its awsome, so stop complaining and just look at it!!!!!!

  • April 10, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Colleen Keeble

    I think that this shirt is fine if want to wear it with a pair of jeans at the pub and looks smart, but wear it to play 90 minutes of football – I think not!

  • May 9, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Ben Palmer

    I also really like it, i think a lot of people have been put off from it because it is so far from the overdesigned shirts of the Premiership and previous England Kit. Let’s be honest the last one was apalling, the close in view of the Three Lions was disgusting with the awful red and blue trimming on the shoulders. Also the placcy badge fell off mine after about 5 washes.

  • July 29, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Agnes Cranfill

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