Football Kits Hit the Right Notes

Musicans and football (soccer) organizations have come together in the past for a variety of commercial ventures. In some cases, singers and bands have offered clubs the rights to their songs, while in others the partners have jointly created one-of-a-kind kits for use on the field and for sale to fans. When it comes to the latter, the marriage between musicians and the beautiful game seems to be reaching a peak during the 2021-2022 season, as a number of apparel and kit collaborations came to light this spring and summer and have sold well. In each case, the musicians have some sort of unique and authentic connection with the club:

  • Ed Sheeran became the sponsor for Ipswich Town Football Club’s home and away shirts. The mathematical symbols plus, minus, equals, divide, and multiply—three of which are the names of Sheeran’s first three albums—appear on the shirt front along with the word Tour; Sheeran’s name is not featured. Sheeran, who grew up in the area where the club is based and is a longtime fan, previously collaborated with Ipswich on a limited-edition shirt in 2019 to coincide with four concerts in the area. The new kit has proven popular with fans.
  • The Bob Marley estate partnered with A.F.C. Ajax, of Amsterdam, and its uniform supplier Adidas for a third kit. The club’s fans have long used Marley’s song Three Little Birds as their anthem. The kit has red, yellow, and green details on a black background, with the back featuring three little birds sitting on the three Andreas (St. Andrews) crosses that are featured on Amsterdam’s flag and coat of arms. The shirt, shorts, and socks of the kit, along with a track suit, sweater, t-shirt, and soccer-inspired Samba shoes, are available as a capsule collection sold through Ajax fan shops and on the Ajax and Adidas e-commerce sites. The shirt itself has sold four times more than any other kit, club executives have said.
  • The Jimi Hendrix estate paired with the Seattle Sounders F.C. to debut a kit used as the club’s secondary jersey as part of Major League Soccer and Adidas’ Community Kit line. The purple, orange, and yellow design was inspired by the colors and psychedelic patterns the musician favored. Hendrix was born and raised in Seattle and his version of All Along the Watchtower is played on the stadium sound system on match days. Some of the proceeds from the kit, which is available at Sounders pro shops and at the MLS e-commerce shop, go to five nonprofits in the Seattle area. A limited-edition scarf is also available to purchase at the stadium’s pro shop.
  • The Prince estate worked with Paris St. Germain F.C. on a limited-edition apparel line that includes a bedazzled and Prince-logoed version of PSG’s fourth kit, which is purple, as well as t-shirts, crewnecks, hoodies, and hats. The club plays its home matches at the aptly named Le Parc des Princes, where Prince once performed. He gave concerts frequently in the city, on the Riviera, and across France, and kept an apartment for a time in Paris. PSG is also releasing an exclusive compilation record (on purple vinyl) of some of Prince’s music, including an unreleased version of the song Cool, recorded at his last Paris concert. Prince is not known to have been a follower of the club, but he was a noted fan of his hometown pro sports teams.
  • Irish rock band Fontaines DC paired with Bohemians F.C. of Dublin, Ireland, for a new jersey. Fifteen percent of revenues from the shirt go toward addressing homelessness in the area, through partner Focus Ireland. The design of the kit highlights well-known Irish iconography including the lamps of Grattan Bridge, Celtic knotwork, the towers of the Poolbeg generating station, and a quote from a wall at Kilmainham Gaol, along with a lyric from the Fontaines’ song Big: “Dublin in the rain is mine.”
  • Iron Maiden teamed with West Ham United F.C. for an away shirt, as well as an expansion of its previous collaboration for a home shirt into training jackets and other training gear. The first partnership was in 2019 and led to several print runs of the “Die With Your Boots On” shirt, with each run selling out. The band’s bassist Steve Harris has been a fan of West Ham since 1965 and the instrument he plays in concert sports an image of the club logo. West Ham was founded as Thames Ironworks and one of its nicknames is the Irons.

Some of the other musicians who have partnered with football clubs for collaborative kits range from Wet Wet Wet, who sponsored the shirts of Clydebank F.C. in Scotland back in 1993 (often credited as the first such pairing) to Fatboy Slim, who with his label Skint sponsored the shirt for Brighton & Hove Albion F.C. from 1999 to 2008 and who owns a minority share of the club. Mötorhead sponsored England’s largest youth football club, Greenbank F.C., in 2006.

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