Aston Villa and Nike: A Dysfunctional Pairing

Nathan Delfouneso Writes The Future (official press release photo from avfc.co.uk)

Aston Villa's 2010/2011 kit has been delayed, according to a statement on the club's official site. Villa fans hoping to wear the new strip will have to wait until November at the earliest. As a 'goodwill gesture', the club will offer free printing at its official stores, and will sell the shirt at a reduced rate.

Guess what, Villa? This is not good enough. While I understand that this is outside club control, what is in your control is your choice to partner with Nike. Nike has no desire to market or promote Aston Villa. They do not list the club on the website, nor do they offer its kits in their stores. Well, they might in England, but Nike certainly does not sell the kits in stores in the United States. Villa, if you think that's of no importance, consider the situation I encountered yesterday: a father walks into the soccer section with two small children. The kids immediately start asking questions about the kits on display: "Which team is this? Manchester United. Which team is this? Barcelona."

To be fair, Villans, we are not in the Champions League. We are not a worldwide brand. But expanding the fan base outside of the Midlands is awfully difficult when everyone outside of England is choosing Manchester United as their club because they can't find the kits of anyone else.

It's time for a new sponsor, Villa. One that respects the club, one that makes the strip available to fans, and even better, to potential fans. One that has the kit available at the start of the season for its supporters to wear. One that doesn't make excuses regarding "quality" when we see plenty of new kits being worn by United supporters.

And until that time, I'd love to know just how the club will compensate its fans that can't make a trip to Villa Park for free printing. Who've already ordered their kit, online, for the higher price. What of us, Aston Villa? What of us, Nike?

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