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What's behind the new Paddy Power and Huddersfield Town campaign?

Many have been tricked, others fortunately not: the new Terriers shirt is a fake, but it hides a complex story

What's behind the new Paddy Power and Huddersfield Town campaign? Many have been tricked, others fortunately not: the new Terriers shirt is a fake, but it hides a complex story

A few days after the presentation of the new crest, we talk about Huddersfield Town again: this morning the British team that recently relegated from the Premier League and will play the next season in the Championship has unveiled the 2019/2020 Home Kit, in the general amazement. The first images of the new jersey immediately became viral: in addition to the traditional white and blue vertical stripes, the shirt presents a big transversal sash in which appears the name of the main sponsor, the famous online betting company Paddy Power.

Already a few days ago the Irish company had released this very nice video in which, in all honesty, they confessed the lack of original ideas to be used for an advertising campaign concerning the English team.

The dimensions and, above all, the reason for the inclusion of such a large band have made many suspicious (fans, simple football addicted and experts), while someone has quietly believed that the shirt was really the one with which Huddersfield will play the next season. None of this, given that the jersey in question is not only a clear fake, but also a remarkable marketing trick. A great clue, on the other hand, had already been given indirectly by Umbro, the technical supplier who, neither on his own site and on his social accounts, had not released announcements about it. But today's story is not only a simple gimmick to attract attention, but it makes us reflect on some never-before-existing issues. 

The one among the great giants of online betting, those that are often enclosed by the popular term bookmakers, and the Anglo-Saxon clubs is a connection that has become more and more strict season after season. Last year, for example, Sky Bet was the sponsor of the three top division of the English football and about 60% of the first and second thier were sponsored by a betting company or online casino: West Ham by Betway, Everton and Hull City from SportPesa, Fulham from Dafabet, even five Championship clubs (Aston Villa, Derby County, Leeds United, Middlesbrough and Preston) from 32Red. More than a normal relationship, the gambling industry has caused a serious social problem, given that the very high income figures, among the major sources of livelihood of British football, have caused the rising of the numbers of people afflicted by gambling fever (there are about 430,000 according to an estimate by the Gambling Commission). In short, a clear case of 'dog biting its tail'. What is certain is that among the few measures taken in recent years there has been that of prohibiting clubs from using bookmakers' logos on boys' replica shirts. Given the current situation, here is a very valid reason why it seems practically impossible for Paddy Power to be allowed such a move.

A second aspect to consider is that related to the Football Association's regulation, which does not allow the badges of the sponsors to fill the shirts exceedingly, in a desperate attempt to maintain the traditional rules: the measures are expressly indicated and categorically exclude that it can be taken consider a band like that of Paddy Power, which would make the jersey 100% illegal. Probably there is only the chance that the club legitimately plays only the next friendly match against Rochdale, precisely because it will be an unofficial game.

It's also true that the football jerseys are taking a very precise direction, more and more distant from the tastes' standards of purity and ever closer to economic references. The 'virgin' shirts without any sponsor are a distant memory, and on the contrary in recent years there has been a constant search for free spaces to sell to the highest bidder, thus making the game kits a way for doing business: after having also filled the back, above or below the numbers, many big clubs (and among these, practically all Premier League ones) have recently experimented with sponsor sleeves. A trick that sparked a huge money flux (Arsenal has even entered into a risky partnership with the Rwandan government), and to which most probably no one will give up, even in Italy where it has recently been regulated. Therefore, if it's true that the Huddersfield operation is very similar to a desperate attempt to sell itself to the devil, even to redeem a season, the last one, really bad from every point of view, it's not at all improbable that in the coming years we will always see more often creations such as the prototype of the fake Huddersfield shirt, a bit like we had already imagined in an old article appeared in our magazine about the jersey of the future, in which oversize sponsors will increasingly take the scene at the expense of the jerseys' traditional elements.