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What's the future of fourth jerseys in football?

The 2020/2021 season was also marked by the explosion of the fourth kit trend

What's the future of fourth jerseys in football? The 2020/2021 season was also marked by the explosion of the fourth kit trend

The 2020/2021 season was the one of the definitive explosion of the fourth shirts trend in football. Juventus, Inter, Napoli, but also Real Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Bayern Munich, Arsenal all presented a fourth kit, and in most cases, they also had the opportunity to show it on the pitch. At the moment, their use is limited to a few events. The celebration of an anniversary or the debut of a collaboration with a fashion brand are the reasons that often lead to the production of a fourth shirt. For example, Juventus' fourth kit was taken from the collaboration between adidas and Human Made; Napoli's fourth shirt is obviously taken from the Kappa x Marcelo Burlon County of Milan collection; the one of Crotone looks like an old PSG home jersey. On the other hand, other fourth jerseys, such as those of Tottenham, Chelsea and Liverpool, haven't seen the pitch due to the strict rules on the matter. In this case, they were jerseys inspired by a Nike sneaker: for example, the fourth Tottenham shirt is inspired by the Air Max 95 OG Neon, with an Air Max logo on the front of the shirt.

As we wrote here, the jerseys are always checked by the referee before matches. Some rules to respect: jerseys cannot have more than three colours, they cannot have graphics on the back and there is also a ban on showing off two different crests, which obviously limits the creativity of suppliers. In addition, it's known that there is no real limit to the number of shirts that can be used in addition to the classic "home" and "away" (which must still have a palette of contrasting colours, to generate a clear difference). Could this be a factor, in the future, to eventually think about a fifth jersey, perhaps adopting the NBA model? For medium and small clubs, which would hardly be involved in collaborations with big brands as happened with Juventus or Napoli, it would certainly be a good opportunity to strengthen the link with the territory, with representative jerseys or in collaboration with local brands. An idea would also be to honour the twinning with other clubs with special jerseys, an initiative that could intrigue and bring supporters closer to the history of the team.


The first question is legitimate precisely in relation to the schedule implemented in the NBA for some reasons now. In 2017, Nike became the official supplier of the sports apparel of the most popular basket league in the world and decided to change the looks of the thirty teams. Since then, each team have four jerseys which they alternate on the basis of a pre-established calendar, which was thought to avoid chromatic problems on parquet but especially at the aim of giving a homogenous advertising cover for all the shirts. Thus the sponsor has control over the shirts worn by the basket players, excluding the teams from this responsibility. 

The four jerseys produced by Nike are the so-called "Association" (the light-coloured "Home" jersey), "Icon" (the dark-coloured "Road" jersey, the away one), "Statement", actual third jerseys, which also are often a tribute to some old jerseys of the team (Nike, adidas and PUMA already follow this trend), and "City", paying homage to the city in which the team is based. Obviously, all this is due to the presence of a single supplier in the league, which is the Beaverton brand, but who knows if someday this type of deal will not be signed with some specific club, giving carte blanche to the supplier in charge.


Furthermore, after the appointment of Daniel Arsham as creative director of the Cleveland Cavaliers, it would not surprise me that a similar solution was adopted in the world of football. Big clubs are always looking for a strong identity that distinguishes them - even beyond the team's performance on the pitch - and a visionary personality like the American designer would be perfect for taking care of the aesthetics of the teams, perhaps personally approving the jerseys designed by the producers or collaborating with them on special kits, such as a fourth jersey. In a historical period in which football teams think like companies, aesthetics is a fundamental component to have followers, and this matter, in the not so distant future, also seems to include the creation of a fourth kit.