LONDON - Manchester United and Adidas have been accused of exploitation after it emerged the club’s new home kit could cost as much as £193 (over R3360). Supporters, campaigners and fans groups have all criticised the Old Trafford club and the manufacturer - branding the staggering sum "a disgrace".
United on Tuesday released their 2018-19 home strip, which features a nod to the club’s railwaymen founders of 140 years ago in the shape of black train line. The "authentic" jersey, which boasts "climachill technology", an "athletic fit" and is what Jose Mourinho’s men will wear at Old Trafford for the coming campaign, costs £109.95 (over R1900), with authentic shorts £42.95 (R740) and socks a scarcely believable £29.95 (over R522). When a name and number is added, the total cost comes to £192.85 (over R3360).
United have defended the cost, saying the prices are set by retailers and are in line with kits from other top European clubs. Across Manchester, City also have two versions of their Nike-manufactured home jersey, with the Vapor match shirt coming in at a staggering £89.95 (over R1500). The full kit, including ‘Vapor’ shorts, a name and number and Premier League badge, costs £169.86 (over R2900).
The Football Supporters Federation (FSF) have called for kits to carry expiry date labels. A spokesperson said: "While not all supporters wear replica kits, a lot of fans do feel they are too expensive," he said.
"However, they aren’t essential and a fairer solution would be for manufacturers and clubs to include a sell-by date in the label. Fans and parents then know exactly what they are buying and how long they can expect it to remain their club’s kit, to determine if the price is worth it."
Richard Arnold, United group managing director, said: "There are many great moments in this club’s fantastic history and none more important than the year the club was founded, back in 1878. This shirt pays homage to the year we were founded."
Inigo Turner, design director at adidas, added: "When designing the kit, we wanted to tell the story of the first incarnation of the United kit, 140 years ago." A United spokesperson said: "The price of the club’s 2018-19 season replica shirt is set by the retailer and not by the club or the manufacturer. It is priced in line with leading European clubs."
United signed a world record £750million, 10-year kit deal with adidas in 2015. A 2016 report found fans can pay a 1,000 per cent mark-up on shirts that cost as little as £5 to produce.
The new United kit is not yet available in South Africa but a "replica", not the same as the "authentic" jersey, can be preordered through some retailers for R899.