It was just an insignificant pre-season friendly. Ajax Amsterdam competed in Cardiff, accompanied by a handful of fans. They quickly quarreled with those of the Welsh hosts. In order to avoid punching after the game, police have ruled that Ajax rioters can only leave the stadium when all other spectators have already left. To appease them a bit during the forced wait, the stadium management played a Bob Marley reggae hit over the loudspeakers: “Three Little Birds”.
13 years later, the flippant song about Three Little Birds in particular and relaxed recklessness in general is the anthem for Ajax fans. In 2019, Bob Marley’s son Ky-Mani even came to Amsterdam to sing with the fans in the full stadium during the half-time break of a match. You need to know all of this to understand the hype that a new Ajax kit has generated. Reggae fans call it “the Rastafarian jersey”. A black camisole with three birds and decorated in reggae colors red, yellow and green. The design has sparked worldwide demand, far beyond Ajax Amsterdam’s fan base. The vest was sold within 36 hours; The Adidas outfitter is already producing. “It has sold at least four times more than any other Ajax shirt,” said Menno Geelen, marketing manager for the Dutch soccer champions.
Open detailed view
Three Little Birds: Birds from Bob Marley’s reggae hit adorn Ajax Amsterdam’s coveted Rastafarian jersey.
(Photo: Adidas / oh)
Traditionally, summer is the period between two seasons when professional clubs change shirts. There are usually three variations per team: one for home games, one for away games and a third shirt. One of them is exchanged at least every year. The business model calculates with as many fans as possible who want the latest jersey and pay for it. Prices for top club fan shirts start at around 90 euros.
But summer also changes the weather for the players. And sometimes the remittance trade fuels the jersey trade considerably. Like a few days ago with Lionel Messi. After the six-time world footballer left FC Barcelona for Paris Saint Germain (PSG), fans of the club in the French capital have taken real and virtual fan shops by storm. American brand Nike’s jerseys with Messi’s name and his new shirt number 30 sold out in no time. There were even rumors circulating that PSG would sell a total of one million such tank tops and, given a unit price of 140 euros or more, would fund the Messi deal. In view of the financial dimension of the sale, it is however just as utopian as the rumors of turnover. The Messi jersey will undoubtedly become the best-selling jersey in the history of the club, PSG marketing director Fabien Allègre put the brakes on expectations, “but we are far from having sold a million jerseys”.
If two other pop stars, Kylian Mbappé and Cristiano Ronaldo, change employers these days, it will also trigger a jersey boom in their new clubs. During a pandemic, it is a welcome source of income for clubs and sporting goods manufacturers. “Jersey sales were of course much lower last season with their ghost games,” said a spokesperson for Adidas, without giving any figures. If supporters are not allowed to enter the stadium or at least fan bars, they are not dressing appropriately for the occasion. The tendency to buy an expensive shirt and watch ghost games on TV from the sofa is limited.
But buying jerseys also depends on the success of a team. When the German team beat Portugal 4-2 in the last European Football Championship and this raised hopes for a successful tournament, online orders for the DFB jersey began immediately after. the final whistle. Moreover, preference was given to those by the name of Robin Gosens, who had shown an excellent match on the evening in question. But when the Germans were knocked out a game later, the demand for national shirts immediately plummeted.
Bayern Munich sell more shirts than all other first and second division clubs combined
In the new season which has just started, it is known that the fans are again allowed to enter the stadiums, but not in the highest possible number. And demand accelerated immediately. Not all clubs and suppliers benefit in the same way. Because the jersey business also reveals the growing economic gap between professional clubs. Only the big clubs with international charisma and the corresponding stars really make a big deal. The usual suspects: Barcelona and Real Madrid, Manchester City and United, Arsenal and Chelsea London, Juventus Turin, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. In times of non-pandemic, Bayern Munich sell more shirts in Germany alone than all 35 other first and second division clubs combined.
Average professional clubs can only dream of selling as many shirts as a Messi, Ronaldo or Lewandowski can bring to their clubs. This is reflected in what the suppliers pay them. While the top three in the sporting goods industry, Nike, Adidas and Puma, bring a top international club up to € 50million per season, mediocre Premier League clubs usually have to settle for small ones. million single digits.
This summer, the activity has been boosted by numerous swimsuit designs, but fans are divided on the look. The new FC Bayern third shirt is printed with mountain silhouettes. The RB Leipzig one gives the impression that someone has touched a freshly painted wall in the process, and a map is even printed on the jersey of Atlético Mineiro (Brazil). Speaking of South America. Adidas gave the Boca Juniors a kit heavily modeled on that of 1981, when the club became champions of Argentina. At that time, a youngster named Diego Armando Maradona, who made him a world star, plays there. In her honor, babies were named after her in 1703. 40 years later, each of them received one of the new retro-looking swimsuits as a gift.