For many football diehards, the release of their side’s new playing strip for the coming season is an exciting time of the year.
It presents a chance for buffs to catch a glimpse of what they can throw their money at once stock hits the shelves.
However, when Melbourne Victory unveiled their new away kit on Wednesday, they didn’t quite get the public response they might have expected.
The release of the A-League club’s essentially sky blue away strip caused a backlash from hordes of followers on social media, with fans sighting an uncomfortable resemblance of the kit to the colours of arch-rivals Sydney FC.
Certainly, the decision for Victory to switch to the light blue (some have defined the colour as turquoise) is a slightly peculiar one, given the two-time A-League champions have traditionally restricted their colours to navy blue, white and grey.
Aside from their previous away strip, which was fluoro yellow, the Victory have effectively distinguished their colours from any other side in the competition.
If we are to look at the reason for the change to light blue, it, quite depressingly, seems corporate reasons is a likely factor.
Emblazoned across Melbourne’s away strip is a sponsor whose logo features the same shade of blue eminent across the rest of the kit. Put two and two together and – bingo – one can imagine there is one very satisfied sponsor from all this.
Although the majority of comments on social media were highly negative towards the new strip, there were pockets of Victory fans expressing apathy over the decision, believing it to be a minor matter.
To downplay the importance of the colour change, however, is to undermine the significance that a side’s colours holds to their fans and, certainly, their very own identity.
We all know which fans we’re referring to when we say the ‘Black and White Army’ in an AFL setting.
Just imagine the uproar at Old Trafford if Manchester United switched to a light blue similar to their crosstown rivals, or if Real Madrid decided to don a scarlet and blue shirt for a season.
Put simply, Melbourne Victory’s colours are navy blue, and alternating them to a colour remarkably similar to a staunch rival is rightly seen as unacceptable.
Moreover, the fact Victory fans were not consulted whatsoever before the colours of the strip were announced is an indictment on the club’s management and, certainly, is indicative of a time period we live in where, simply, money talks.
Perhaps, at the very least, Melbourne could have taken a leaf out of the Newcastle Jets’ book and put the decision to an online vote.
Unfortunately, with mass production in progress, it all appears too late for anything to change now. Victory fans have little choice but to accept the new strip.
Hopefully next time, following this backlash from fans, the club’s management learns from their mistake and decides to incorporate their faithful’s views first.
In this corporatised world, though, I’m not holding my breath.