- This is a guest post by Nathan Patrick
In 2012, MOJ owner Denis Hurley tackled the kit clash debate in an article for True Colours Football Kits, and after several reads of that article and a number of questionable decisions by the Premier League and other footballing bodies since then, I feel that I want to try and articulate my own opinions on the kit clash debate by reiterating some of Denis’ points and also adding a few more of my own.
As always, this debate can often get heated as there are so many different factors as to why a kit is chosen to be worn in a football match, so I only wish to ignite the discussion regarding kit-clashes.
FIFA’s Law 4 states that:
the two teams must wear colours that distinguish them from each other…..
which is a very vague definition so different footballing bodies have different interpretations of this ‘law’. For example, UEFA competitions such as the Champions League and the Europa League take this to mean that the shirt, shorts and socks are each distinguishable from one another, whereas the Premier League and the FA Cup are much more lenient on the issue, permitting short clashes and (rarely) allowing sock clashes.
The Premier League’s reasoning for allowing short clashes has often been because you cannot commit a foul with a part of the body that shorts cover (which is a moot point anyway as sleeve clashes are allowed despite handballs being one of the most contentious decisions in football). Regardless, short clashes can be problematic for officials when the players are grouped together, i.e.at dead ball situations.
I like shorts-clashes to be avoided unless changing shorts causes a phenomenon named the ‘overall clash’. This is when a clash occurs because each team has a large amount of two shared colours, even if each element of the two kits didn’t clash. For example, Huddersfield wore their navy third kit at Wembley this season against Tottenham who wore white shirts, navy shorts and white socks. It would’ve been counterproductive for Huddersfield to have changed into white shorts, so in this case I would permit a short clash.
There are some instances where I believe a team should modify their kit when at home to avoid an overall clash and West Brom’s kit this season is a perfect example of that: navy shirt with white stripes only on the front, white shorts and white socks.
When Chelsea went there in November, they had a conundrum as their home and third kits both clashed and their away kit would cause an overall clash whatever combination of shorts and socks they wore with it. They decided to wear it in its intended form of silver shirts, silver shorts and blue socks which was a terrible overall clash.
My proposal would have been for West Brom to change into navy shorts and socks and for Chelsea to have worn white socks.
The most controversial aspect of the kit clash debate is partial clashes, and I have identified the five most common of these: White vs sky blue, royal blue vs sky blue, claret vs black/navy/dark, sleeve clashes and stripe clashes. In all cases,
I believe that they should try and be avoided if possible (so I despise seeing Chelsea play in blue at Man City when they have a perfectly good black third kit) but sometimes these partial clashes are the only option to be worn, as shown by the West Brom vs Chelsea example.
Sky blue vs white is acceptable for me if there are dark shorts and/or socks on show for either side. This is the reason I could accept Man City vs Shakhtar Donetsk this season at the Etihad, but I had far more problems with the reverse fixture. Similarly, City vs Stoke this season was an eyesore despite Stoke’s red stripes, whereas the red socks helped enormous amounts last year.
Royal blue vs sky blue only works for me if the royal blue kit has dark shorts and socks and the sky blue kit has light shorts and socks. For example, Man City vs Chelsea at the Etihad in 14-15 was fine, whereas the return leg at Stamford Bridge presented difficulty watching on television.
I dislike claret kits versus teams in other dark kits, even with the aid of lighter coloured sleeves, shorts and socks. I would even prefer clubs to risk a sleeve clash, for example I wanted Arsenal to wear their away kit at West Ham rather than their dark grey third kit. I also believe red is more distinguishable against claret than navy is.
Sleeve clashes make handball decisions so much more complicated than they need to be so I would advise to steer clear of these unless there is no better alternative. One of my biggest pet peeves was when Arsenal would wear their home kit at clubs who play in white (Swansea, Fulham, Leeds etc.) when we had a perfectly good yellow/blue change kit to turn to.
One of the only situations where I always permit a sleeve clash is the North London derby, as this is one of the most traditional derbies in Europe and it is a shame when one of the clubs is forced/decides to wear a change kit.
Stripe clashes don’t bother me as much as sleeve clashes as they do not massively complicate any decision the officials may have to make. However, I think that stripe clashes start to become an issue for viewers when coupled with clashing shorts.
In recent years, clubs have increasingly worn change kits when there is no clash with the home kit, and this has fairly often created a clash that was not present if the home kit had been worn. I do not mind if clubs change unnecessarily providing there is no clash created, but when a clash is created it is simply unacceptable in my view.
In conclusion, I believe a kit should be chosen to be worn based on how much contrast it has to the opposition’s kit to make the game more aesthetically pleasing for the players, officials and spectators. I do not think that kit choices should be based on whether the colours are traditional to the club or whether the club needs to sell a few more of those shirts, as this would eliminate most of the partial clashes. For those borderline clashes, my thoughts as mentioned earlier would make those matches far easier to watch.
Please respond to this article whether you agree or disagree as I would happily argue about kit clashes all day!