Picture the scene, it is a big match in the Premier League. Sky camera’s are there early, eagerly awaiting live pictures of the players coming off the coach. The pictures will be used by all news outlets across the globe. They will reach as many people as who watch the game itself. Sky Sports News, for example, show live footage of every Premier League club arriving to their respected ground on a Saturday. Pre-game has become big news.
Now you are the kit sponsors of a club. You also have your logo’s on the club tracksuits. Be it Nike or Fly Emirates, or whoever is sponsoring the club at that point, your logo is on that track suit. Now there are only a the few times it is worth having your logo on the track suit. The first is training ground pictures, however these are often covered up by bibs. The second is when players wear tracksuits as they get off the coach and these pictures are beamed around the world, beaming your logo around the world.
Now previously, when the discussion of wearing suits before games has been raised by fans, the answer from the club has always been clear and unequivocal. Arsenal did not wear suits as the management of the club felt is more important for players travelling to games to be comfortable than smart. Anyone who commutes in a suit will know that, travelling over long distances, they can get uncomfortable. How many people reading this wears sweatpants and hoodies when they go on long flights? Elastic wastes, cotton t-shirts and track tops are more comfortable the suits. It was a legitimate reason for not wearing a suit.
Before the game against Liverpool, as revealed by ourselves, Arsenal re-introduced the wearing of suits before home games. In a clear move away from the previous stock theory of comfort, it is clear the clubs policy has changed. When the journey from London Colney to the Emirates is so short – 17.8 miles, 57 minutes in current traffic, wearing a suit should not be problematic. It makes me think, was the previous stock answer actually a cover up for Nike and/or Fly Emirates?
With kit deals being so lucrative, sponsors want to get their maximum value. Part of this is having those pictures of players arriving to the stadium pre-game. The thinking is that it was actually in the contract of both Nike and/or Fly Emirates that players would arrive to games wearing tracksuits, bearing the sponsors logos, rather than suits.
It is rumoured that upon taking the captaincy last summer, Thomas Vermaelen requested the players start to arrive to games in suits. Smarting themselves up, showing the class that is required to represent Arsenal Football Club. Usually at Arsenal, what the captain wants, he gets, when it comes to fashion. The most famous example is every player wears the same length sleeve as the captain.
Now if Thomas Vermaelen wanted the players to wear suits, why has it taken so long for the clubs to role this out? The only answer can be that it was not implemented to appease the sponsors. Since then, Arsenal have renegotiated their deal with Emirates, as well as signed a new kit sponsorship with Puma. Within these new deals, you have to think Arsenal removed the clause that players will wear tracksuits to games, therefore opening the way up for players to wear suits for games.
With the Nike deal now basically over, and the new Emirates deal in place, the previous restrictions placed upon the club by the sponsors is now lifted. And that means Arsenal players will once again wear suits to games.
It is a sad indictment that Arsenal were willing to sell their class, their history of wearing suits, to the sponsors, but that is the world we live in now. A world where your stadium is now names after a sponsor. A world where the level of corporate income is more important than the standard of coaching. The game is now about consumerism rather than sport. But that’s another blog!
Anyway, no matter what the reasons are that we are back wearing suits, it must continue. We are the classy club in England. We have the history. We are the gentlemen of the game. Arsenal players wearing suits before games should not be about sponsorship, should not be about politics, it should be a given. Arsenal are class.