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Page last updated at 11:53 GMT, Monday, 26 July 2010 12:53 UK

Fans hit out at increased kit changes by clubs

By Alistair Magowan

Roman Pavlyuchenko
Roman Pavlyuchenko in one of Tottenham's three new kits this season

Fans groups have hit out at the increased number of Premier League clubs who are launching a new home shirt every season.

In 2000, the Premier League charter pledged that replica strips would be released every two seasons to save fans digging into their pockets too often.

But 18 clubs issued a new home shirt last season and all 20 Premier League clubs are doing the same this term.

Tottenham have launched three new kits every year for six seasons in a row.

The north London club have also decided that a different sponsor will adorn their home, second and third kits for Cup games this season, meaning there will be six shirts on offer, costing £45 each on the club's website.

Arsenal and Liverpool are the only teams who are releasing a new kit this season, who did not do so last term.

While Premier League clubs are within their rights to release a new home kit every season, the extent of the current situation is in stark contrast to recommendations made by the Football Task Force, chaired by former MP David Mellor, which were included in the 2000 Premier League charter to give fans a fairer deal.

The group's suggestions, which also included issues around ticket pricing, encouraged clubs to ensure a two-year gap between new replica shirts, which led to clubs releasing home and away shirts in alternate years.

Alistair M - BBC Sport

Most clubs, including many in the Football League, now issue third strips and commemorative jerseys, but Arsenal and Liverpool still say in their customer charters that "home shirts will have a minimum lifespan of two seasons" although the Gunners stipulate that there may be exceptions.

"This gives the shirt more longevity in comparison to releasing one every season and our fans better value for money," a Liverpool spokesman told BBC Sport.

According to Premier League rules clubs must "allow for market research to be undertaken with regard to the frequency of strip changes and to its design".

They must also "identify the intervals at which strip changes are intended to take place and the date of the next intended change" and each club's customer charter must be available to the public, outlining its policy with regard to ticketing and merchandise.

But Tottenham Supporters Trust chairman Bernie Kingsley said his group had not been consulted, while Football Supporters Federation chairman Malcolm Clarke labelled the club's decision to offer six new shirts as "frankly ridiculous".

Kingsley told BBC Sport: "The club do talk to us but any decisions that might affect their income revenue they don't generally consult us.

"Last season we said that we didn't like the yellow stripe on the home shirt and asked if it could be changed, but the club said if they changed it based on what the fans said they would be considered a laughing stock."

Kingsley said the request had been based on a similar discussion between fans of the Dutch club Feyenoord where supporters' requests were granted.

Birmingham City have also just launched a new kit for the coming season where fans chose the design from four on offer.

A Tottenham spokesman denied Kingsley's claims and told BBC Sport: "Our aim going forward was to continue to meet demand for greater variety and choice in all of the merchandise ranges that we offer, including replica kit.

Cameron Jerome
Birmingham's Cameron Jerome (left) in a kit chosen by fans

"As a result the club took the decision from the start of season 2005/06 that all our replica kits would have a one-year lifespan and we regularly discuss subjects such as this at our quarterly meetings with the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters Trust."

Clarke said: "I think Spurs' actions are frankly ridiculous. Given the price of watching football in London you have to be very rich to be a Spurs fan already. If you're paying for six shirts that would be about £250."

Kingsley added: "It is down to the individual whether to buy them or not but in the current financial climate I think the club should be more sensitive.

"The club will argue that by issuing new kits it provides more revenue streams in which to buy new players and some supporters will go along with that, but it's just another example of football ceasing to be a sport and more a business."

Manchester United and Manchester City are another two clubs who have both released new home and away shirts for the coming season having done the same thing last term.

Allan Galley, chairman of the Manchester City Supporters Club said: "People do want to wear them as a way of relating to the club, but I think it's unfair to bring them out every season at £45 each.

"It's not a popular policy. Young children like to wear them too, but it's not as if they are particularly cheap for them either."

But Mark Longden of the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association said: "If you are daft enough to buy a new football shirt every season then that is up to you.

"You don't have to buy them, the only thing that concerns me is the ticket prices and the club have not put them up this season, so it doesn't directly affect me."

Former sports minister Kate Hoey, who was in government when the Football Task Force was active, said the issue was more relevant for people who could not afford to go to football matches but added that parents had to take a firm stand against persuasive children.

"The Premier League clubs are a law unto themselves and if people keep buying them then they will keep selling them," she told BBC Sport.

"I don't take the line where children come home and say, 'everybody else has got a shirt why can't I have one?' I was brought up in an era where I was told by my parents, 'we can't afford it, sorry'."

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