Paddy Power has revealed that its controversial kit design for Huddersfield Town is, in fact, fake, launching a new shirt with the logo removed entirely to make the point that “football shirts aren’t billboards”.
The betting shop has engineered the stunt as part of its ‘Save Our Shirt’ campaign, where it is calling on brands to stop sponsoring “sacred” football shirts – including competitors. As a result, Paddy Power will “unsponsor” the team and relinquish its space on the front of the Huddersfield Town shirt, and it’s encouraging others to do the same.
Earlier this week, the cheeky bookmaker trolled fans with a “bold” kit designed to celebrate its recently-inked sponsorship deal with the club.
The home kit featured the Paddy Power logo prominently emblazoned in a sash-style motif across the front of the shirt, while the away version “paid tribute” to the club’s 110-year history with 110 Paddy Power logos adorning the top.
Eagle-eyed fans pointed out that both kits contravened FA guidelines, which stipulate that there can only be one single area on the front of a shirt featuring a sponsor. Indeed, the team stormed the pitch wearing the kit during the club's friendly against Rochdale on Wednesday evening and the FA confirmed it had subsequently contacted the club to discuss the shirt.
However, as predicted by The Drum, the move is actually part of an elaborate prank from Paddy Power, which has previous form for duping the general public.
Instead of taking up space on the club’s jersey, the advertiser wants to shine a light on the issue of shirt sponsorship, saying the criticism of the sash (which was described by some as “the worst kit of all time”) highlights that it isn’t alone in recognising the problem.
Surprisingly, the brand is also taking direct aim at fellow bookmakers, pointing out that more than half the teams in the top two divisions will be sponsored by these companies – with 14 Championship teams bearing a betting brand’s logo.
“Shirt sponsorship in football has gone too far. We accept that there is a role for sponsors around football, but the shirt should be sacred,” said Paddy Power managing director, Victor Corcoran.
“So we are calling on other sponsors to join the ‘Save Our Shirt’ campaign, and give something back to the fans. As a sponsor, we know our place, and it’s not on your shirt.
You can see the real Huddersfield shirt below.
Paddy Power has also donated its sponsorship of the club’s training kit to the Huddersfield Town foundation.
The bookmaker is no stranger to stoking controversy to make a point.
During the 2018 World Cup it emblazoned a Russian 'polar bear' with the England flag to draw attention to the plight of the animal. Then, in the mist of the 2014 Brazil World Cup it 'shaved' the rain forest in a move that was later revealed to be a collaboration with Greenpeace.