Towards the end of the Covid-19-interrupted 2019-20 Premier League season, Chelsea played Crystal Palace while wearing their new sky blue away kit. While that match was ongoing, news came through that the Premier League had decided that neither of Burnley’s sky blue or dark green alternate kits were suitable to wear against West Ham the following evening, so the Clarets commissioned an emergency fourth white shirt from Umbro.
From a kit-nerd point of view, an emergency strip is always exciting (MoJ has published articles previously on both Chelsea and Manchester City’s misadventures in generic Umbro teamwear in the late 80s/early 90s). However, this does raise questions about continuing colour-management in professional football.
As I’m sure I go on a lot, the enjoyment of partially-sighted and colour blind fans is given more consideration these days, and this is part of the reason behind Burnley’s green kit being an issue against West Ham; red/green colour-blindness is the most common of a range of colour perception issues, but it seems a bit strange that clubs are continually allowed to register daft selections. Fifa and Uefa have attempted to address the issue in the past with mandated dark and light kits, but that sometimes clashes with clubs’ heritage colour schemes.
From my point of view, I have a definite issue with clubs launching away shirts that contain a colour from the home shirt, or are broadly similar in tone – Chelsea’s home and away kits both being light blue; Burnley’s away kit being sky blue, the same as the sleeves on their home kit; Aston Villa, Bournemouth, Newcastle, and Southampton all had kit choices that bordered on impractical. Sometimes this is due to the long development lead-in time for new kits and not knowing who else is going to be in the same division due to promotion/relegation not being finalised, but most of it just seems a bit lazy.
Ideally, for me, no club would be allowed to have an away kit that had a body or sleeve colour or shade that was present on the home shirt. Out of this season’s kits, around a quarter of clubs would fail that test. But if that’s a bit much, how about each Premier League club has a yellow third kit?
Every club in the 2019-20 Premeir League has had a yellow change shirt at some stage – and there were some crackers at that. Logic underpinned most of the choices – with a yellow option, there was almost no chance of a third kit being required. I particularly liked the template that both Chelsea and Everton adopted in 1990.
It could work like this – each club can do what they like with their away kit, but they must have a yellow third shirt. They are allowed trim, but it must be the primary colour of the home shirt (or perhaps a nominated secondary colour instead) or black. Shorts and socks can either be the primary colour, or yellow depending on the club’s general preference. Chelsea’s 2018-19 away kit is a good example of how this would work in practice, with yellow shorts and blue socks. Liverpool, on the other hand, might want to go with all-yellow.
But what about teams whose first choice kits are yellow or gold? They would have a blue third kit: again, Norwich, Watford, and Wolves have all had blue away kits in the past. You might think this all sounds a bit reductive, and while it’s a bit of a kit reverie for me, I think it’s a practical solution to ongoing horrible kit clashes caused by short-sighted trendy colour correction.
In any case, for some reason I really like simple yellow away kits; the Chelsea one mentioned above. Barcelona’s away kit this season. Liverpool’s classic 80s strips. I can’t see any way it wouldn’t work. Well, not unless Norwich launch a yellow away and third strip…