Manchester United fans may be getting used to the 2014-15 home shirt, but fresh on the back of Monday's reveal, it has been announced that the design will be Nike's last.
The American company have supplied United's shirts since 2002, taking over from Umbro, but the need to spend so heavily is now reportedly being questioned by those in charge, per Alex Richards of the Mirror, who quotes a source from Reuters:
Clearly Nike's football business is booming and they could easily afford to do this (deal). They had the right to match any other offer but looking at the deal on the table, they will walk away as it doesn't make commercial sense.
Nike later confirmed the report in a statement to Mike Keegan of the BBC:
Just had a statement from Nike confirming they will not be renewing their kit deal with #mufc— Mike Keegan (@mikekeeganbbc) July 8, 2014
1/3 Nike: "Any partnership with a club or federation has to be mutually beneficial & the terms that were on offer for a renewed contract..."— Mike Keegan (@mikekeeganbbc) July 8, 2014
2/3 Nike: " did not represent good value for Nike’s shareholders." #mufc— Mike Keegan (@mikekeeganbbc) July 8, 2014
3/3 Nike: "We are proud to have partnered with them for the last 12 years & will continue to sponsor the club until the end of the season."— Mike Keegan (@mikekeeganbbc) July 8, 2014
United were set to pocket a record £60 million-per-year deal across a decade starting from the 2015-16 campaign, noted in Richards' report. It is now suggested Adidas could swoop to land a deal, despite Nike being allowed to match any offer, suggesting the famous three stripes may don United's shirt for the first time since 1992.
Worryingly, one must ask why Nike would turn down the chance to continue designing and selling United's kit.
A deal that "doesn't make commercial sense" may have been helped along when David Moyes' stuttering season saw United miss out on the Champions League, limiting their exposure across Europe and adding no guarantee of further European football down the line.
Which company would you like to see manufacture Manchester United's shirts?
Although this is perhaps dramatic, the situation certainly doesn't help. It would be unthinkable to suggest Nike would drop United if the club—for argument's sake—had just won the European Cup and still included Cristiano Ronaldo in their lineup.
David Kent of the Daily Mail writes that Nike "insist" they are still in talks, while Tariq Panja of Bloomberg suggests the deal will come to an end due to United wanting "more than" £60 million per year.
Feedback on United's potentially final Nike shirt remains mixed, mainly due to the attention-grabbing Chevrolet logo planted in the middle of an otherwise slick design. The club tweeted an exclusive first image of the style on Monday, with reaction highlighted by Rob Dawson of the Manchester Evening News:
General consensus seems to be that the shirt is all right but the Chevrolet logo should be smaller and white. Sound about right?— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonMEN) July 7, 2014
Some United fans seem more concerned that Ashley Young and Maroune Fellaini are in the promotional photo than anything to do with the kit.— Rob Dawson (@RobDawsonMEN) July 7, 2014
United will certainly be hoping to tie down a record £600 million contract for the next decade, especially now Champions League football isn't guaranteed.
This will help make up some of the potential £30-£70 million lost per season from not participating in the elite competition, reported by ESPN. The added funds will also ensure Louis van Gaal can build a squad for the future, an important factor to sustaining the kind of success United have built their brand upon.
Supporters are unlikely to be fazed by which company produces their kits, as long as the money continues to roll in.