Umbro has been a kit and equipment manufacturer in global football for near on a century. The iconic band was birthed in Manchester in 1924, originally focusing on playing strips alone.
The company’s designs made their English debut on the backs of the Manchester United and Portsmouth teams that competed in the 1934 FA Cup Final. Umbro grew substantially throughout the 1930’ and 40’s, with multiple teams donning the brand and it was soon manufacturing the footballs that became the official choice of the English FA.
By the 50’s, Umbro was supplying kit to the British Olympic Team, branching out into tennis fashion and birthing the beginnings of what was to become a billion dollar industry. By the end of that decade, young football fans were able to purchase exact replicas of the product their stars wore each and every weekend on the pitch.
Brazil became FIFA World Cup Champions wearing Umbro’s product in 1958 and England did the same in their triumph of 1966. Only the USSR wore apparel made outside the Umbro manufacturing base in Manchester during that tournament. At that time, an estimated 85% of domestic English clubs were using or contracted to the brand.
After a decade of disassociation with the English National team through the late 70’s and early 80’s, a new deal was struck in 1984. With a host of championship winning clubs all around the world such as Liverpool FC and AFC Ajax wearing Umbro branded kit and an explosion of corporate involvement about to occur in world football, the brand made a bold move into footwear.
Since, it has been passed from the hands of the sons of the original owners, to global giant Nike and now rests with Iconix Brand Group after a US$225 million sale in 2012.
As it stands, one of the oldest and most visually recognisable football brands maintains a firm and consistent face in the game. Umbro is an official partner of the Confederation of African Football, Coupe de la Ligue, 12 national teams spanning four continents and over 100 professional clubs around the globe.
Over 60 individual athletes also enjoy the support of the equipment and footwear giant and its presence on Australian soil is something they hope to expand. The Central Coast Mariners, Brisbane Roar and the Melbourne Knights wear the brand. As do Japanese giants Gamba Osaka, FC Tokyo and Al-Ahli SC in the broader Asian region.
Umbro returned to the Australian market in 2014 forging partnerships and connections and a prime opportunity now exists for Australian clubs to reconnect with the global leader.
With the support of the Pro Football Group, Umbro kit returned on the backs of the Brisbane Roar before Central Coast and Melbourne also saw the benefits. The business model allows for something of a one-stop shop for professional and grassroots clubs, as well as refereeing associations and futsal centres across the country.
The opportunity to meet and custom design team wear to create something far more impressive than off the shelf kit is something of which Umbro is keen to make the Australian football scene well aware. An obvious benefit to players is the significant discount available on boots and equipment purchased through Pro Football Group.
Considering the ever-increasing costs involved in junior football across the nation, the potential savings would no doubt be appreciated by parents and clubs alike.
There are still some sponsorship opportunities available for clubs wanting to align with Umbro for the 2020 season, however with the clock running fast, clubs would have to make contact briskly if they wished to forge a new relationship and enjoy the undoubted benefits.
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