There was also a rule floated about that you could not wear your second (away) strip unless your first (home) strip clashed with the opposition when you were playing away. I'm not sure if this was ever in force, and even if it were it would have been very difficult to police. What constitutes 'clashing'? Just how different do the strips need to be in order for the fans, both those there and on the tv, to be able to tell the players apart?
The England shirts have also been changed on a bi-annual basis. This is, however, probably what the fans want as they change the first and second strips on alternate years. It is clearly easier with a shirt that doesn't carry a sponsor, and tends to stay with the manufacturer for longer - England shirts were made by Admiral until the mid 1980s and have been Umbro ever since.
With a change of supplier or sponsor there is a need to change (at least in part) all of the shirts in the club's range. If you are going to change the sponsor - the most recognisable part of the shirt if we're honest - then you might as well change the design too. I would imagine that the new sponsor would not be all that happy if their name was not blazoned across all the replica shirts as well as the first team, so it's a bit of a no brainer really.
In the event that you do not change the supplier or the sponsor then a new home shirt one season and a new away shirt the next is, for me, just about right. The manufacturer Joma have not been able to design (yet) a shirt that actually fits my son. Just for the record, he has no other problems with any other clothes. Most of his stuff comes (I think) from Gap and Next, and everything has fitted fine - save for him having short legs like his Daddy. The Joma shirts (and he has been bought everyone since he was conceived) have not been big enough to go over his head without causing the kind of screams that even a mad football fan Dad would not make his son go through. Thus, apart from the first shirt (I had to keep that one as I bought it months before he was born) I have gone on to return all of the shirts I have bought for him. So, I'm not in that intolerable position where I have to buy more than one shirt every time they bring out a new one.
I understand the clubs' desire to make as much money as possible. The Wigan Charmian was on the tv last week describing how this was a major income stream for the club, and very necessary for them to compete. If you take into account who he is competing with it begs the question as to just how much difference it would make to that competition if all clubs were forced to keep their shirts for two years or longer? I mean if all the clubs have to keep their shirts then all the clubs would have less money. In fact, as Wigan are one of the least well supported clubs in the division they are in I would imagine that reducing the number of times you can change the shirt would make them better off compared to the clubs that are selling more shirts every time they change it. I also find those kind of excuses for squeezing more and more money out of fans disgusting when you consider that their employees (players) are earning millions and millions of pounds each year.
Sky Sports News did a round up of the new strips a few weeks ago, and from memory 18 of the 20 Premier League clubs were changing their home kit, 23 of the 24 Championship, and 20 of the 24 League One teams. Now this could be a coincidence, but it does look likely that there are many clubs that are not keeping their shirts for two seasons. Some Premier League clubs (and Charlton were guilty of this on more than one occasion) have introduced third kits that have then (against the rules) become the second choice kit to get around the two season rule. On occasion you can have a situation where neither of your kits are enough of a change from the opposition. Southampton, for example, if you have red and white kits. On these rare occasions (all be it there were three of them last season in the Championship) a third shirt is necessary.
I have always been a keen purchaser of a new shirt. I like to buy one every year. I would always wear a shirt to home games, and around the house when we are playing away. When the shirts used to change every two years I would normally tend to wear the new one (home or away) on all of these occasions as it was, after all, the new one.
In recent seasons we have had a run of bad luck with sponsors but we have had a staggering eight first team strips (including the Centenary) since the end of the 2000 season. That's eight shirts in ten seasons. As for non first kits (second or third kits) we have had nine, including one that was classified as a third shirt, one that was classified as a third shirt and then 'promoted' to become a second shirt and one that was a second shirt that was 'relegated' to a third shirt.
So, at £40 a shirt (save for 1p) that makes a total outlay of £760. That's about £76 a year. That is without the cost of buying shirts for one, two, or possibly more children that some families have to bear.
Now, as I've said I like a new shirt as much as the next man, maybe even more (I'm a bit sad like that). I have always looked froward to the new shirts coming out, and have always thought of them as a great way for me to put money into the club, while getting something tangible in return. I never had any problems with 'funding' the club while Curbishley was running it. However, two things have happened at the same time. Pardew has wasted a whole load of money (some of which has come from my replica shirt purchases) and last season's home shirt (which I did buy) is probably the most horrible football shirt I have ever seen. And yes, I am including that pink one that Everton wore a few years back. Frankly with that shirt we deserved to be relegated.
This season's offerings are much better. I know that we are now a third division club, but I would have thought that we could have been given something a little unique. Both our home and away shirts are available without the club badge or the sponsor from the Joma catalogue. In fact I could probably source the shirts without the logos on for less that a Charlton shirt. Time to change supplier? You bet ya - see below.
I have decided not to purchase the shirts this season. I like to wear my replica shirts on my holiday, and this season the new shirts were not available to buy before I went away. Fair enough there were new sponsors to arrange. However, we now find ourselves with the new shirts being available to buy less than nine months before the time that they will no doubt be consigned to history. The new sponsorship deal has been signed, but we have only this season on the contract with Joma. I don't doubt that it will be more cost effective for the club to change supplier so that they can issue two new shirts next summer.
As I didn't like last season's shirt and I'm not planning to buy the new one I will probably now go to matches (home - I never wear colours away) without wearing a Charlton football shirt. This change in attire can, frankly, not come soon enough for Mrs Kings Hill. She has never understood why I would want to buy or wear the rubbish tat that they charge the same price for as a designer shirt. She thinks that replica football shirts are not the sort of thing one should wear once one is older than about fifteen years old.
So I have, potentially, worn my last Charlton football shirt. I have three black sacks full of Charlton Shirts. Every shirt that has been available to buy since our Adidas kits in the First Division in 1986. Some treasured, some looking less and less appealing as the years go by. The ones with purple and green on them gave last seasons Starsky and Hutch number a run for it's money.
However, that long tradition is about to end.
If anyone who has any say wants to know what the club has to do to change my way of thinking then aim for a manufacturer that is more of a household name. I'm talking about Nike, I'm talking about Adidas and I'm talking about Umbro. At a push Puma would be ok, but can we please get away Joma, Ribero, Quaser and the like. I also don't want to end up Butka and I especially don't want a shirt with the word 'Pony' on it.
Basically have a look at the Premier League teams and the National sides and if it's good enough for them then it's good enough for us.
I know what you're all thinking, those companies will not pay us enough, but if you consider that if we were with one of the big three I would have bought loads of 'training' gear from the club shop. I would love to go to the Gym wearing Nike (or Adidas or Umbro) shorts and shirts from the Charlton training range. I have probably spent more than I have on football shirts on other sports wear in the last ten years. If our kit manufacturer's had been Nike or Adidas all of that money would have gone through the club shop. Instead it went through sports shops at Bluewater.
And the bonus is that we would have a decent shirt. It's not even as though they can trot out the usual excuse "Joma were willing to design a unique shirt just for us".
Anyway nothing can happen on this front for many months, and I doubt that we will get that kind of kit. I mean if we couldn't get it in the Premier League then I seriously doubt we can get it now.
For those of you that are interested you can see illustrations of all our former kits here. Joma's range of generic kits here. The home kit is on page 29 (the book says 73) and the away kit is on page 33 (the book says 77). Please note this is a catalogue and is 10MB in size.
However, despite my logical reasoning for not buying a shirt this season (a decision that could well change, especially if they drop the price around Christmas) I would urge you all to go out and buy them both. they are lovely (if generic) football shirts, and as Bob Hoskins says on the Tesco adverts "Every penny helps".
Up the Addicks!