The launch of a new Huddersfield Town kit wouldn’t normally generate much interest other than the back page of the local Examiner newspaper.
Yet today Huddersfield were all over Twitter like seagulls on chips thanks to their new shirt which featured a huge sponsor strip for Paddy Power. And no, it's not April 1.
Betting sponsorship in sport has been a subject of debate for many years and the majority of Premier League and Championship clubs carry their branding on their kits. Last year we had the bizarre sight of three of the four clubs in the Championship play-offs being sponsored by the same company. But none have featured the logo in such a prominent and intrusive way as the Terriers which is why social media was agog.
After the initial gnashing of teeth and furious retweetings with angry face emojis, the penny dropped. Paddy Power are a company that is not afraid to take risks with its marketing and frequently sails close to the wind in a bid to generate coverage just like this.
Some of Twitter’s less volatile users were happy to point out that there are limits to what a sponsor can do on the front of a football shirt. The logo can’t exceed a 250square centimetre space which can either be rectangular or circular. Will the betting company be prepared to stand a fine in exchange for even more publicity? Paddy Power’s sash sponsor exceeded that and then some. It ruins a perfectly acceptable Umbro shirt and people were quick to draw comparisons with the kind of sash worn by women on a hen do.
A spokesperson for Paddy Power said: "We’re delighted to work with Huddersfield Town on this bold new kit design. As a brand which embraces doing things differently, we didn’t want to get into shirt sponsorship just to do the same as everyone else. We feel the diagonal design will be the most distinctive sponsor there is. We’re sure Huddersfield fans will be delighted with this season’s kit.”
Such intrusive sponsorship may be an oddity in this country but shirts in France and South America regularly feature multiple logos which make them look more like a racing driver’s suit.
It’s also worth noting that kit manufacturer Umbro have been extremely quiet about the launch on their platforms today suggesting the whole episode is a bit fishy. In the last few weeks, Umbro have been extremely active in their cross-promotion so to let this all go off without comment seems ridiculous.
At the time of writing, the actual Huddersfield home shirt was still to materialise.