The pre-season period is one where supporters of football clubs up and down the land await news of their side making an exciting signing or two.
These summer months are where most outfits will unveil their new kits for the season ahead – a time equally as feverishly anticipated by fans.
And so you can forgive Huddersfield Town supporters for feeling a little bemused after their team’s new kit was revealed this week.
It has been sponsored by Paddy Power, and rather than opting for some subtle designs on the bookmaker’s logo, they have instead decided to blast it across the front of the strip in a sash in size 100 font.
The kit does at least maintain Huddersfield’s tradition of blue-and-white stripes, and the players got to pull on the shirt for the first time in a friendly against Rochdale on Wednesday evening.
However, with perennial pranksters Paddy Power, all is not necessarily as it seems….
FA Looking On With Interest
Paddy, for once, isn’t playing this one for laughs, with a spokesperson telling the firm’s website:
“We’re delighted to work with Huddersfield Town on this world-first execution.
“As a brand which embraces doing things differently, we didn’t want to get into shirt sponsorship just to do the same as every other sponsor. We’re sure Huddersfield fans will be delighted with this season’s kit.”
And there was another straight-batted comment from the Terriers’ commercial director, Sean Jarvis, who said: “We’ve gone for a really modern twist on how we feature the famous Paddy Power logo.
“Paddy Power is a very forward-thinking, innovative company – that’s one of the main reasons that we’re so excited to work with them – and this new ‘sash’ style logo is a footballing first, continuing our reputation as being innovators.”
— Huddersfield Town (@htafc) 17 July 2019
There are many who believe the kit release is simply a spoof and a publicity stunt – let’s face it, Paddy is no stranger to pulling the nation’s leg – and besides which the design is thought to breach a variety of FA rules regarding sponsorship and how betting brands are showcased on replica shirts.
The organisation has a regulation stating that a kit can only have ‘one single area not exceeding 250 square centimetres on the front of the shirt,’ which the Paddy Power branding clearly flaunts.
The FA’s rulebook also dictates that no betting firms can sponsor replica shirts which are sold to children.
Paddy’s Finest Publicity Stunts
The Irish bookie has no fear of ruffling a few feathers when it comes to advertising his services.
You suspect there were a few eyebrows raised in the Giggs household when Rhodri, brother of Manchester United and Wales legend Ryan, featured in a ‘loyalty is dead’ advertising campaign which poked fun at the allegations that Ryan had an affair with his wife.
Their PR wins are not reserved for just TV ads either. When Pope Francis visited Ireland back in 2018, Paddy set up a portable confessions booth in the heart of Dublin.
Size does matter when it comes to a publicity stunt, and so that’s why the firm erected a 100ft statue of Roy Hodgson on the White Cliffs of Dover just prior to Euro 2012. Titled ‘Roy the Redeemer’, the monument was a cheeky nod to the religious landmark in Rio de Janeiro.
And Paddy is never shy when it comes to getting his pants out…indeed, he devised a huge pair of green y-fronts, attached to a hot air balloon, to fly over the Cheltenham Festival in 2003 – one way to get round some of the advertising restrictions at the course.
Update 19/07/19: Huddersfield Town’s New Kit is a Confirmed Hoax
As many had predicted, it turns out that Huddersfield Town’s hideous new home kit was nothing more than a hoax from prolific pranksters Paddy Power.
The shirt featured the Terriers’ traditional blue and white stripes, but with a fairly aesthetically-displeasing Paddy branded ‘sash’ that left the strip resembling something a Miss World contestant might wear.
Well, not to worry Huddersfield fans, because it transpires that the whole was a big set-up by the mischievous Irish firm.
Even though Jan Siewert’s men wore the kit in a friendly against Rochdale on Wednesday, it transpires it was merely a publicity stunt ahead of a slightly more surprising offering from Paddy Power.
They are sponsoring Huddersfield Town this season, but in a unique twist have refused to have their branding emblazoned across the front of the shirt.
The bookmaker has launched its ‘Save Our Shirt’ campaign, which has been devised to try and persuade brands to stop plastering their logos across the front of new kits.
It could be considered something of a guarded dig against the betting industry as a whole, with countless bookmaking firms opting to sponsor football clubs to boost their visibility with such a key demographic.
In this forthcoming 2019/20 campaign, fourteen of the twenty four Championship teams will have a betting firm as the main sponsor on their shirts, and some might question whether that is too many or not.
Paddy Power have also announced that they will donate the club’s training kit, with the funds being donated to the Huddersfield Town Foundation. The bookies’ managing director, Victor Corcoran, told the firm’s website:
“Shirt sponsorship in football has gone too far. We accept that there is a role for sponsors around football, but the shirt should be sacred.
“So today we are calling on other sponsors to join the Save Our Shirt campaign, and give something back to the fans.”
Football’s Betting Bonanza
Last season, nearly 60% of all football clubs in the Premier League and Championship were sponsored by a betting company.
There’s a moral decision to be made about sponsorships of course, but as is often the case in life money tends to make things happen – and gambling operators are not shy in spending big sums to get their name involved in top flight football.
The FA does have a series of rules regarding betting sponsorship, and it has been announced that from the 2019/20 campaign onwards bookies will not be allowed to advertise before, during or just after televised matches. Gambling firms’ logos also can’t be shown on youth team kits and replica shirts in children’s sizes.
Offshore bookmakers advertising on UK soil are expected to pay into a GambleAware fund that helps to support problem gamblers, of which there are a reported 430,000 on these shores.
But not all do, according to an investigation from The Times, with SportPesa – who spend £48m a year sponsoring Everton, and Fun88, Fulham’s sponsor, donating just £50 to the fund. In contrast, Betway offered more than £130k.
The annual target of the fund is £10m per year, and it is believed that – percentage wise – eight of the nine betting companies that sponsor Premier League outfits aren’t donating their share of the levy.