There’s clearly been a lot of positives at the club over the past year or so; the NSWE takeover, one of our own Dean Smith coming aboard and steering the club to promotion, mouth-watering commercial deals being locked up by Purslow, the summer spending spree and just the overall buzz around the ground on match day. Everything has gone near on perfect except one thing – Kappa.
The decision to replace hometown boy Luke 1977 with Italian sportswear brand Kappa is the biggest downgrade since Peter Enckelman took over from Peter Schmeichel as the clubs number one. The quality of Luke Roper’s 2018-19 shirt will be unrivalled for years to come, not only because of the design quality but also the comfort and robustness of it too. Factor in the fairy tale “dream come true” story of a lifelong fan designing the kit of the club he adores along with the memories of that day at Wembley and it was the perfect combination.
At £55 a pop for just one adult jersey it can often cost a couple of hundred quid to kit out a whole family including children. For that sort of money you’d expect the shirts to at least last until the end of the season but it seems – judging from what I’ve seen online – most shirts will be lucky to last up till’ Christmas as pictures of print and labels being scattered all over the place become more and more regular.
Back in the Hummel era of 2004 – 2007 I recall looking around the Holte End and seeing shirts with little-to-no print or emblems on them because they were so shoddily made and I’m expecting to see more of the same between now and the summer of 2022 with Kappa. The difference between those dark Hummel days and now is social media – where discontent travels fast.
Fortunately for me, I’m yet to purchase any of the clubs official merchandise this term. A modern trait of mine as I now tend to buy a couple of months in once I’ve had the opportunity to gage fan reaction and based on what I’ve seen, heard and read it’s safe to assume that I won’t be buying any official club merchandise for the next three years. I’ll be going retro.
My single biggest disappointment about this whole debacle is the lack of acknowledgement and formal response from Kappa and/or the club itself on the subject. We’re not talking about just a handful of people who’ve not washed the shirt correctly – the simple fact is that it’s a poorly made shirt not designed to sustain multi-washes over the course of a season.
By no means am I an expert on who actually makes the kits, whether it be Fanatics or Kappa. The fact is that if you put your name to it and endorse the product as Kappa and Aston Villa have then it’s their responsibility to do something about it when the sh*t hits the fan.
One of the main reason my mother (a single parent that dislikes football) didn’t mind taking me to Villa Park when I was child is because the club was and continues to be family friendly. But that stretches beyond match day when things like this are impacting children, families and as a result peoples back pockets on such a large scale. And mark my words – it’ll only get worse as the weeks and months go by.
Written by Ryan Pitcher