FA gets shirty with Huddersfield Town

Following their relegation from the Premier League, Huddersfield Town made the headlines during the summer when they revealed that their new home kit would be sponsored by Paddy Power and that the sponsor’s name would be placed on the front of the kit in a diagonal sash like manner.

Although it turned out that this was nothing more than a publicity stunt, The Terriers wore the kit for their first pre-season friendly against Rochdale and as a result the FA has charged the club with misconduct.

The FA has strict rules and regulations in relation to what can be advertised on a team’s kit and these are contained at Part 12 of the FA Handbook. The size of the logo/slogan on the front of a club’s shirt is specifically referred to at Rule C2(i)(a) which states:

“On the Clothing of a Player on the field of play, the following areas shall be permitted to be used for advertising; one single area not exceeding 250 square centimetres on the front of the shirt”.

A sash spanning from the player’s left shoulder across the body down to the player’s right hip is a clear breach of the rules and contrary to the examples given at Figure 10 of the FA handbook.

Huddersfield Town have been given until 16 August 2019 to respond to the FA’s charges.

Under the FA Handbook a breach of the Kit and Advertising Regulations will constitute misconduct under Rule E1(b) “The Association may act against a Participant in respect of any Misconduct, which is defined as being a breach of the following: … the Rules and regulations of The Association and in particular Rules E3 to E28 below”. Such a finding by the FA Regulatory Commission could lead to penalties, pursuant to Rule A40, which will more than likely be a fine.

In an era of sport, where rules and regulations are becoming more and more prominent it is interesting that a club that spent the last 2 seasons in the Premiership did not review the rules of shirt sponsorship or contact the FA to enquire about the measurement procedures. The handbook explains that a logo’s smallest geometric shape will make up the area and provides an email address for any queries.

This also begs the question whether this is also part of the publicity stunt and the already tongue in cheek campaign against the commercial nature of football and the place of betting companies in football. A campaign, which has led to Paddy Power “unsponsoring” not only Huddersfield Town but Motherwell, Newport County and Southend United; as part of their “Save our Shirts” campaign where the bookmakers are not only claiming to give something back to the fans but have taken aim at other sponsors from the gambling industry, highlighting that 26 of the 44 teams from the top 2 leagues in England are sponsored by betting companies.

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