My Take On The Possible New Strip

Work brings me over to Brussels for a few days where I’m writing this blog. I watched VfB Stuttgart v Barcelona with some like-minded football obsesives last night. A decent game from a neutral’s point of view. I joked with some I was watching it with that it was Arsenal Old Boys 1 Barcelona 0 when the German club went ahead in the first half. Mad Jens Lehmann and Alex Hleb both started for Stuttgart. Thierry Henry, looking a shadow of his old self, came on in the second half for the Catalans.
There was almost one vintage moment of Mad Jens at his demented best in the second half. He came steaming out of his goal towards the wing where Carlos Puyol had pushed forward and had lost his marker. He pulled out at the last minute, taking just the ball but you could see from the replays that as he advanced on the Barça skipper he was giving very serious consideration to completely taking him out a la Toni Schumacher on Patrick Battiston in the West Germany v France 1982 World Cup in Seville. If Lehmann hadn’t pulled out at the last instant he would have taken Puyol off at the knees. Knowing Mad Jens as I do I don’t doubt for one instant that he was giving it serious thought. It would have been a classic Lehmann moment of madness.
Stuttgart took the game to the visitors in the first half, Cacau nodding home from an excellent cross. Barça equalised in the second half which makes them slight favourites to go through in the second leg at the Nou Camp. Anyway, enough of that. It was interesting to see the reaction to the pictures of what is alleged to be our new home strip for the 125th anniversary season next term. I hope the images are correct. If they are it will be the sort of “less is more” design I’ve been calling for, simple and elegant.
The comments I found most interest were the calls for Emirates Airways to waive their rights to have their logo on the shirts, at least for one season. I’ve said before I’m convinced there are good commercial reasons both for the club and for the sponsors to seriously look at this, not just as a one-off but as a permanent arrangement. Some who are experts in marketing and advertising think so too. Argentine giants Racing Club have just struck  a sponsorship deal with Banco Hipotecario, the country’s biggest mortgage lending bank which will see the club’s playing kits carrying no sponsor’s logos. It’s gone down a storm with Racing Club fans and has got the sponsors a LOT of very positive coverage in the media.
The young lady modelling the shirt is welcome to sit next to me anytime at The Grove wearing exactly what she likes! Sorry. They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this beholder is a dirty old man! Seriously though, I hope the shirt is what we end up running out in next season. I also hope that chief executive Ivan Gazidis and our new marketing director Angus Kinnear will want to fully explore with Emirates the real commercial advantages for both the club and the airline in this novel idea.
Racing Club’s initial one year deal with Banco Hipotecario is worth one million Argentine Pesos (around £645,000) VERY big money for Argentina. This could be an idea that’s commercially sound and whose time has come. We’ve got a proud history of innovation as a club. Such a scheme could make us all winners.
Keep the faith!

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