Manchester United is one of the clubs supplied by Adidas, which is facing supply chain challenges © Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images
Manchester United is one of the clubs supplied by Adidas, which is facing supply chain challenges © Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images

Football kits in short supply amid 'unprecedented' disruption

8 August 2022

The football league has returned but many clubs are reporting a shortage of shirts available to buy due to factory shutdowns and post-pandemic supply disruptions. 

Adidas, which provides kits to Premier League teams Manchester United, Arsenal, Leicester City, Leeds and Fulham, told Supply Management “unprecedented” supply chain challenges meant it was seeing delays to its kits for the latest season. 

A spokesperson said: “As a result of unprecedented challenges over the past year we expect to see a delay to our clubs' 2022-23 matchwear and training wear. We understand the frustration felt by the fans at this time, and we have worked in close collaboration with our club partners to find the best solution on delivering the product as soon we can.”

Football shirt manufacturer Errea, which produces kits for clubs including Queens Park Rangers and Sheffield United, said it was “​​unlikely” to have shirts it supplies to Middlesbrough FC in time for the team’s 11 August launch due to an “unpredictable” operating environment. 

Fabrizio Taddei, head of the Global Partnership Department at Errea Sports, said: “As a manufacturer we are of course reliant on our supply of raw materials and it is here that we have found some difficulties of late as some of our suppliers have fallen foul of the international supply problems caused by Covid, all the knock-on effects of the pandemic and the massive increase in shipping costs.

“Most of our suppliers have worked with us for many years, decades in some cases, and as such we are very familiar with their turnaround times and delivery schedules, which are normally extremely precise, but the current situation has now made these timings both longer and far more unpredictable.

“We had hoped that the delay in the arrival of these materials would not be too long and that we would, therefore, be able to shuffle our production schedules and deliver punctually to all our partners; unfortunately, this was not the case.”

Taddei said he was in conversation with the company's buyers and production coordinators to “resolve things as quickly as we possibly can”.

Research by the BBC in July found only 44 out of 92 clubs in the English Football League currently had both their 2022-23 season kits on sale with some citing the factory shutdowns in Asia for the supply disruptions. 

An unnamed English Football League chief executive told the BBC they had signed off kit designs in October 2021 but its new home and away kit were available to sell yet due to Covid disruption at factories in Asia.

He said it was too soon to predict the financial impact of the disruptions but the delays would cause some teams to take a financial hit. 

He said: “We're in a position where that hasn't caused any disasters for us. But for some clubs I would imagine it's pretty difficult.”

Sales of Cristiano Ronaldo’s shirt for Manchester United have made over £187m alone to date, with the club receiving 7.5%-15% of profits.

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