Tottenham has announced a five-year, £50 million kit deal with the American kit manufacturers Under Armour (UA).
Beginning with the 2012-2013 season, Spurs will become the first English Premier League team to endorse UA kits but they will not be the first football clubs to do so though. Hannover 96 from Germany, Deportivo Toluca and Estudiantes Tecos from Mexico, Aris Thessaloniki FC from Greece and Colombia’s Once Caldas have all already become the first clubs of their respective nations to wear UA shirts.
You must have already read up on the details of the deal, and how they praised each other in the press release as usual.
So while Spurs can look forward to recieve upto £10 million a year, one must wonder what UA will be able to provide for the UEFA Champions League hopefuls.
Puma had gone for a retro look last season with the club being successful in the league last season and making it into the European competition where they stunned both the Milanese clubs. The retro look was adopted for both the home and away shirts.
UA might not change too much in the kit to be able to achieve a smooth transition from Puma to UA. UA is already accustomed to using thick horizontal stripes across the chest with the UA logo and the club crest displaying on it and that just might be the case with Tottenham’s 2012/13 season.
A plain white home shirt as usual with a blue horizontal stripe across the chest which will display the UA logo and the Spurs’ crest. The away shirt would be interesting but I won’t be surprised if it’s just a negative of the home shirt.
The other possibility for an away shirt is a blue shirt with a white collar and a white diagonal stripe going from the left shoulder to the right bottom of the front of the shirt with the Spurs’ emblem on it.
Compared to the other mega kit manufacturers involved in the Premier League, UA has a huge task in front of them because Tottenham Hotspur have now become a top-four candidate and their reappearance in the Champions League is not too far from reality if they just keep their game up.
They will be compared with the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea and those two English giants have the services of Nike and adidas respectively.
Spurs have moved from the German competition between adidas and Puma to the American competition between Nike and Under Armour and UA have not had an opportunity to claim a European market share at a bigger stage than this. But for an increase in their share, they will have to impress not only the Spurs fans with their kit designs but also the opponents Spurs will face.
Nike and adidas have proven their mettle time and again and earned sponsorships of the biggest clubs in Europe and their are tens of other manufacturer in the race far behind the two. UA will be joining the race alongside the likes of Diadora, Kappa, Le Coq Sportif, Reebok, Umbro and of course Puma.
Relatively new in this field and still to make a mark, UA does have an element of surprise if they can pull off a kit design and technology to match those of Nike and adidas.
Nike’s innovation around the Manchester United kits has been well-documented and criticized but what goes unnoticed is the technology behind the shirts. The fabric of the shirts is made to wick sweat away and help the player keep dry and comfortable. It’s called the ‘Dri-Fit’ technology.
adidas uses a similar technology called the ‘ClimaCool Flow Mapping’ – like for the Chelsea kits – which allows a small flow of air through the carefully positioned mesh inlets (in simple words, tiny holes) on the shirt. It keeps players cooler, drier and more comfortable.
Although these little things seem meaningless for an amateur player or a fan but for professionals competing at the highest levels, staying a bit cooler or drier could mean the difference between him having the energy to shield off the opponent towards the end of a crucial game and over-heating his body or even running out of breath.
UA does have similar technology called the HeatGear which is ideally made for warm weather and keep players cool, dry and light. Other useful innovation in the shirt that they offer is strategic ventilation and ultraviolet protection. They also offer odor control but I don’t think many will be interested.
Recently, UA has revealed a shirt they are testing with the NFL. It is called the E39, although the shirt is build for NFL but it is something that is worth looking into for association football as well.
The E39 shirt is outfitted with a “bug” sensor that contains a triaxial accelerometer, a processor, a Bluetooth and two gigabytes of storage. The bug uses this things to measure heart and breathing rate, skin-surface temperature, as well as force and direction and shoot it to laptops or smart phones, according to the NFL.
The bug can measure acceleration and change in direction allowing coaches to dissect a player’s movement yard-by-yard. The players, however, are happy to run and turn around to see how much G-force they can generate. Real Smart!
Maybe, UA will inject that technology into European football through Tottenham. Maybe.
All in all, UA has all the capability of shocking the giants operating in the European kit manufacturing market and frankly, Tottenham is not a bad club to start with. Although their first major European break came with Bundesliga club Hannover 96.