It never rains but pours for the SFA and the SPL. Having lost a considerable amount of money after the collapse of Setanta Sports earlier this summer, they now stand to lose out again after the collapse of the Italian sportswear company Diadora, who collapsed earlier this week with the loss of all of their UK staff. Diadora were almost at the end of a contract with the SFA to provide the kit for the Scottish national team and had only released a new change kit earlier this year. The good news for the SFA is that they may only lose around £1m because of this.
There was also bad news for the Scottish Rugby Union after the collapse of the European arm of the New Zealand based sportswear firm Canterbury Clothing (CCC). CCC provided the kit for the Scottish national rugby team, but their loss has wider implications for sport in Britain and Ireland. Amongst their other clients were the current Heineken Cup holders Leinster, London Wasps and Yorkshire County Cricket Club, but their biggest football clients were Premier League, and it has been suggested that over-expansion in the direction of football has been one of the major factors in their demise.
Portsmouth signed up with CCC in 2007, and in 2008 controversially changed the colours of the club’s kit from their traditional blue, white and red to blue and gold. Their home kit last season was one of the low points in the recent history of English football kits, adorned with unnecessary dots on the sleeves and shorts, presumably for branding reasons. Their new kit for next season was due for launch next week but they have not at the time of writing received the orders that they placed earlier this summer.
Considering that Portsmouth have paid for these orders in advance, their new owners could have a minor financial headache on their hands. The club will have to honour pre-orders from supporters no matter what, and new kit suppliers will be unlikely to give as good value as CCC did in such financially straitened times. This all adds up to a slightly uncomfortable summer at Fratton Park. The club still has no new manager and they have lost eight players over the summer, including England defender Glen Johnson to Liverpool for £18m, with Peter Crouch apparently now being courted by Sunderland as well. There are plenty better candidates for a relegation spot for next season, but anyone that believes in the powers of The Ides Of March will be viewing these omens with furrowed brows.
The collapse of these two long established sportswear companies along with the collapse of Setanta, is certainly a concern for football in general. Television and shirt sales are supposed to be the sacred cash cows of English football, after all. We spend more on televised football than anyone else and, anecdotally, it always seems as if more English supporters at matches are wearing replica shirts than those of teams from other countries. CCC saw a gap in the market in the Premier League and attacked it, but over-extended themselves and were further weakened by the collapse in value of the pound at a time that they were importing their goods from the Far East. It is, in some respects, a sign of this summer of football madness: if the TV companies and kit manufacturers start going bust, what else can we expect over the next few months?