Matchday souvenirs: for the proper football fan or tourists?

In the wake of Trafford Pub, a local boozer near to Old Trafford, banning people from entering if they are wearing a ‘half and half’ scarf, I thought it was time to question what people have against these matchday souvenirs and who actually buys them.

Whatever football match you attend nowadays, it’s almost impossible to see anyone not dressed in their team’s colours. Littered outside stadiums are stalls filled with scarves, hats, gloves, badges and t-shirts.

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But who actually buys these ‘souvenirs’? Is it those who turn up to the same ground every week, or those who may be visiting for the first time, looking to take home a memento from the special occasion.

I went down to Old Trafford to speak to souvenir sellers outside the ground to find out who they target, which positions they sell at and why the products are so popular.

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Old Trafford before the European match against PSV Eindhoven.

I was fortunate to meet Peter, who was happy to give me an insight into life as a matchday souvenir seller.

“We do try and target tourists, the way the stalls are set out, but I don’t just particularly target tourists, I target everybody, tourists and other Man United fans, kids and adults, with pictures old and new.”

Peter has been a seller for 25 years, and in his time he has seen how the club has shifted away the stalls to create more emphasis placed on the official merchandise sold in the megastore.

“I used to work outside the ground, in the 90’s, but then the club were taking in big money, then they moved us to where the hotel is, then that was built and they moved us again.”

“I was outside the megastore, and it was better then, now we only see a low percentage of the actual tourists, with them being ferried into the ground and megastore through coaches.”

Half and half scarves have become a big topic of debate for many football fans, with it being believed that you should only wear your own team’s colours, although some have argued that having the two teams on a scarf is a good way of remembering the match in years to come.

However, if you are coming to the ground every week, can you really afford to purchase an £8 scarf every game?

Peter states that the half and half scarf price is lowered if they are not selling, and also compared the official scarf that used to be sold outside the ground to the the same one that is now more expensive in the megastore. Though the club have only one product they really aim to sell…

“Inside the megastore, they don’t sell a lot of scarves, they’re only interested in selling kits, all they want is someone to spend £50 on a kit.”

“Football is a brand at the end of the day, the fans want a bit of everything and they will spend.”

Overall it’s safe to say that tourists may be being exploited in terms of matchday souvenirs whereas perhaps the regular match going fan may not be as easily persuaded.

As for me, you’d never catch me sporting any half and half scarves, let alone half and half t-shirts. At this rate next season could be even worse…

Has official merchandising in football gone too far?

In the past month, adidas, the new sponsor of Manchester United Football Club, released their latest range of clothing, available on both adidas and United’s official websites and in their own respective stores.

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Outside the official megastore at Old Trafford.

However, they have once again come under heavy criticism over the pricing of the products, as they did at the start of August following the release of the new kits for the 2015/2016 season.

But are modern football fans to be surprised?

One thing that has always stayed constant is the culture of a football club.

However, each football club is now promoting its brand through official merchandise at almost ridiculous levels on their website and in its club shop.

Causing football fans to rent their frustration at the supposed ‘working man’s game’ being left behind for them.

Demand for shirts has been at an all time high, as United have smashed their sales record for the latest home kit.

However, the actual price of a full Manchester United home kit for adults with name and number is around £120, with it being £100 for kids.

This means that a family are shedding out hundreds of pounds on buying kits to support the club they love, but with these prices, are they being treated like they are loved back?

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The Manchester United home shirt, selling at around £60 depending on size.

Since the partnership came into prominence adidas have fully taken advantage of the market by producing jackets, joggers and even bucket hats.

 

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A Manchester United ‘windbreaker’ coat and t-shirt, part of the latest adidas originals range.

Some fans have seen the return of the ‘retro’ adidas clothing as a positive…

In fact me myself as a fan was so impressed by the latest retro range that I went out and bought one of the jackets myself.

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Me in the latest Manchester United jacket, from the 1985 retro range, priced at £60.

They have not stopped there though, as a few weeks after releasing a new United clothesline, they followed it up by actually producing a pair of United shoes, priced £75.

When will it end?

Although some keen fans stayed outside Old Trafford overnight for an early morning release of the adidas Stretford.

The fact that there were only 1200 shoes made for distribution only raised the price of the pair further, on eBay, the shoes were going for astronomical numbers.

As a result most fans were very relieved to get their hands on them…

Though the majority were less than impressed with how quickly they sold out…

And many were displeased by the fact that the three stripes, adidas’ main brand identity and USP, were not in team colours…

Quite a lot of fans who signed up weeks in advance to receive an email on the day of release didn’t get end up getting one.

Thus leading to fury at the fact the shoes were unattainable for the proper fans who wanted to actually wear them and that they went to those who just wanted to sell them off for a profit.

By the amount of products being shovelled out at extremely high prices, it looks like the gap between the club and the fans is getting wider, not closer.

Review of the Manchester Derby – 25/10/15

A dull derby day draw. I was hoping for a more entertaining game to kick off my football blog with, but although the game wasn’t the classic we were hoping for, with just 3 shots and 2 on target from both sides, there was some interesting tactical battles to look at and delve into.

Both sides came into the game in decent runs of form. Although United had been easily swept aside by Arsenal at the start of the month, they had won their previous 5 games before the Emirates embarrassment and were very convincing in turning over Everton 3-0 last weekend. City had recovered from 2 successive defeats in the league to smash 6 past Newcastle and then 5 past Bournemouth. The blues had also got themselves back in contention in Europe, with vital late winners against both Mönchengladbach and Sevilla.

The formations were also similar, United made one change from the game at Goodison with Antonio Valencia replacing Matteo Darmian at right full back. Juan Mata also came back into the side after being given a rest by Louis van Gaal in Moscow on Wednesday. City had their star men, David Silva and Sergio Aguero out but were boosted by the return of captain Vincent Kompany and Aleksandar Kolarov to their back line. Fernando replaced Jesus Navas, allowing Yaya Toure to push more forward, but even though this looked like a defensive move, men in form Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling were obvious threats in attack. From the outlet it looked like both line ups were set in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

The first half was a complete non event, a real cagey affair, with United struggling to get the ball up to captain Wayne Rooney, and even when they did, the pairing of Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi dealt with it easily. However, Anthony Martial was causing trouble on the left, frequently drawing fouls leading to referee Mark Clattenburg taking the names of a couple of City players. Whereas at the other end of the pitch, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones kept Wilfried Bony very quiet, as did Marcos Rojo with the danger man De Bruyne. Neither goalkeeper had a shot to save and it was the first time United failed to muster a single shot in anger during the first half of a Premier League game since the 2003/2004 season.

The second half was much of the same, the crowd was surprisingly quiet, and reflected the mood on the pitch. The home side picked up slightly in the second half and attempted to raise the tempo but the blue rear guard stood firm and let nothing through. 10 minutes after the restart the disappointing Sterling was hooked with Navas his replacement, though the Spaniard made little impact. In fact it was the changes from United which nearly sparked the game into life. Marouane Fellaini was introduced for the tiring Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jesse Lingard entered for the surprisingly ineffective Juan Mata.

These two made the best chances of the game in the last 10 minutes. Lingard made an excellent run over the top and was picked out with a chip from Martial, though the academy product’s looping effort hit the bar before bouncing to safety. Then, with a couple of minutes to go, Ander Herrera, who had a claim for a penalty waved away earlier in the contest, pumped a free kick to the big Belgian Fellaini, his header down was met by Smalling, whose first time effort was well saved by Joe Hart down to his left. That was about that, if anything United shaded it but failed to find the killer ball, whilst on the other hand City defended what they had to. The away side came for a point and got exactly that.

The real battle of the game came in the midfield, with the Sch’s and the Fer’s. The red pairing of Schneiderlin and Schweinsteiger and the blue pairing of Fernando and Fernandinho. The away side sat compact and hardly moved forward, with the two Brazilians performing their roles very well. The United midfield bossed the ball, moving it well side to side, but couldn’t get it forward to the attack enough.

Then you had City’s two centre halves up against Rooney. Often England’s record-breaking skipper would come too short, filling the midfield role, which made it very easy to defend against for Kompany and Otamendi, as the striker couldn’t get in and around the box enough times. Perhaps the pace of Martial through the middle would have exploited them better. City mainly played on the counter, but the home side covered this well and were rarely threatened by the pace on the break. 

Overall, a point apiece was fair, as City moved back to the top, level on points with Arsenal whilst United moved down to fourth, behind West Ham on goal difference.

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