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Under Armour and Sydney FC forge an exciting new partnership and the kit looks impressive

Football kit is big business. With hundreds of millions of units sold each and every year, it is no wonder that sports clothing and accessory brands align themselves with teams; seeking mutually beneficial partnerships across the globe.

In fact, total sports sponsorship looks likely to surpass US$65 billion in 2019, with football accounting for a significant piece of that pie.

The corporate investment is considerable, yet the return lucrative. Presenting and marketing a fashionable, successful and elite face to a sporting public craving connection and relationship with its sports stars is marketing 101.

For the sportswear industries’ heaviest hitters, football teams are an important arm of their corporate strategy and vision.

Despite its relatively innocuous size when compared to major football leagues around the world, there is still much value in forging corporate partnerships with Australia’s A-League franchises.

That fact has not escaped the U.S based footwear, apparel and accessory giant Under Armour. From humble origins, the company has become an industry leader and its iconic corporate symbol will now adorn the kit of one of Australia’s most successful clubs.

Reigning A-League and W-League champion Sydney FC launched its 2019/20 kit in style last week and for the first time, the designs are provided by Under Armour; a new player on the A-League scene.

The deal is a major coup for the Sky Blues yet also a clear statement of intention from Under Armour; obviously looking to broaden its reach internationally.

The launch took place with all the glitz and glamour that Australia’s biggest City usually provides and its most successful football club celebrated the new association with a cruise on Sydney Harbour.

Players, club staff, partners and an array of guests attended, with Sydney midfielder Milos Ninkovic and W-League captain Teresa Polias given the honour of modelling the new home design.

The away and alternate strips were also showcased and all contain an indelible symbol that clearly connects the club to both fans and the local environment.

Senior design manger on Under Armour’s Global Football Team Karen Patterson explained.

“Using sky blue as the focal point, conceptually we designed the three kits to incorporate the club’s traditional colours while also giving a nod to the Sydney Opera House – an iconic symbol for the club and for supporters around the world.”

The strips are visually stunning and using state of the art material technology, also provide Sydney’s teams with the best chance of success in what will be demanding and competitive seasons in both the A and W Leagues in 2019/20.

The four-year deal sets up a relationship based on successful branding and imaging, a quality that both parties pursue. It is something Sydney FC achieved last season when it raised both the men’s and women’s championship trophies and also what Under Armour aim to achieve by producing bold and innovative designs in their development of football kit.

Certainly in the case of Sydney FC, they appear to have hit the mark.

With Puma, Umbro, Macron, Adidas, Nike and Kappa already in the A-League kit arena, the new player enters a competitive and challenging local market and Sydney FC becomes the 18th club backed by the brand across the globe.

The medium term vision for the company must surely include forging a deal with a European powerhouse club that will ingrain their name even more deeply into the world game.

Thanks to the ever-increasing importance of global branding and corporate involvement in all sport, clubs benefit considerably from both the product provided and the associated aesthetics that permeate in a world of impression and reputation.

This new arrangement is an exciting development for the league and Sydney FC will look stunning on the pitch in spite of any disappointing results. It will be interesting to see the competitors’ offerings as we move nearer to season kick-off in October and wonderful if more and more young kids begin wearing the colours of their favourite A-League team instead of far-flung international clubs.

Stuart Thomas is a trusted Journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on macro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions.

$1.5 Billion FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan Approved

FIFA

The Bureau of the FIFA Council has approved the FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan regulations which aim to financially support member associations during the pandemic.

$1.5 billion USD ($2.1 billion AUD), will be made available by the international governing body to assist the member associations and confederations.

Each member association will receive a $1 million USD universal solidarity grant. An extra $500,000 USD will be provided which can only be used for women’s football.

The six football confederations will also receive $2 million USD each, these grants will be received by the organisations by January 2021.

As a part of the plan member associations will also be able to apply for interest free loans of up to 35 per cent of their annual revenues. FIFA has set a maximum loan limit of five million dollars. Confederations will be able to apply for loan of up to four million dollars.

FIFA said that clear loan repayment conditions are laid out in the regulations along with strict compliance and audit requirements.

“This relief plan is a great example of football’s solidarity and commitment in such unprecedented times,” said FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

“I would like to thank my colleagues of the Bureau of the Council for approving the decision to move forward with such an important initiative for the benefit of all member associations and confederations.”

With the funds provided FIFA believes that member associations will be able to restart competitions, re-hire staff and pay any administration or operating costs.

“Unfortunately, the resultant suspension of basic football activities in almost every country has led to enormous financial distress for member associations and their respective football structures,” FIFA said in the relief plan.

“FIFA quickly recognised the need and duty to implement a FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan aimed at alleviating this distress and ensuring the provision of financial support to assist with football’s resumption and protect the games future well-being across the globe.”

FIFA administrators created the plan earlier this year after consultation with the confederations. The plan was then approved by the FIFA Council on June 25.

New Zealand Football confirms 2020/21 season details

New Zealand Football has confirmed the details and starting dates of its national competitions for the 2020/21 season, during October and November.

New Zealand Football has confirmed the details and starting dates of its national competitions for the 2020/21 season.

The national men’s football league, the ISPS Handa Premiership will start in November, while the National Women’s League will commence from the weekend of October 31.

COVID-19 has also forced some structural changes to be made to both the men’s and women’s competitions.

In the ISPS Handa Premiership, the competition will feature eight club instead of the usual 10 teams. The South Island teams, Southern United, Tasman United and Canterbury United Dragons, will merge for the upcoming season. They will play under the Canterbury United Dragons name.

The competition will retain its usual format of a regular season with each team playing each other twice before a finals series including semi-finals and a grand final – the latter is expected to be held in March 2021.

Plans for a promotion and relegation framework have been postponed and will be reviewed before the 2021/22 season.

The National Women’s League will be played as a single round robin competition for this season. A grand final will be held on the weekend of December 19. The competition will feature all seven women’s teams.

“It has taken a lot of work with our clubs and federations to get to this stage but we are excited to now be able to confirm initial details of our national competitions for the upcoming season,” Daniel Farrow, General Manager of Football for New Zealand Football said in a statement.

“While Covid-19 and the knock-on effect of shifting community football dates has had an impact on the length of competitions and, in the case of the ISPS Handa Premiership, the number of teams able to take part, running men’s, women’s and futsal national league competitions this year was a key priority and we are very pleased to be able to make that happen.

“We also want to acknowledge the support of Sport NZ and our on-going partnership with Trillian Trust as key contributors to staging competitions this season.”

The 2019/20 ISPS Handa Premiership was called off early in March due to COVID-19. Auckland City, who were leading the competition at the time, were declared champions.

Queensland features an abundance of Matildas

New figures show that Queensland's female development has been incredibly successful in finding new talent, who have represented the Westfield Matildas.

New figures show that Queensland’s female development has been incredibly successful in finding talent, who have represented the Westfield Matildas.

As part of Football Queensland’s latest findings, 40 homegrown players have gone on to represent the Australian Women’s National Team at major senior and youth tournaments since July 2012.

Katrina Gorry, Mackenzie Arnold and Hayley Raso (pictured) are a few examples of local talents working their way up the ranks during the last eight years and will be key contributors in the next Women’s World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

Gorry, Arnold and Raso spent time at the Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) before accomplishing themselves in the Westfield W-League and internationally.

Football Queensland and the QAS combined to launch a full-time training and playing program for upcoming talents in 2018.

“Our pathway is now the envy of every female footballer in the country,” Rae Dower said, a former Matilda and current Junior Matildas Head Coach.

“We’re fully committed to evolving the program and to helping as many female players in Queensland reach their full potential on and off the field through the creation of our high-performance environment.

“We’d love to help make dreams come true for Queensland players wanting to play for the Matildas in a home FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2023 and beyond.”

Football Federation Australia revealed more than 18,000 women and girls from Queensland played football in 2019, as part of the latest census findings – a three per cent increase on 2018.

“The numbers we have are very encouraging and we look forward to seeing Queensland produce many more Westfield Matildas,” FQ Technical Director Gabor Ganczer said.

“Having the FIFA Women’s World Cup on home soil will be a big moment and objective for aspirational players and we are putting a lot of resources into helping them achieve their goals, not just now but permanently.”

Football Queensland provided every local player who has represented Australia at Olympic Games, World Cups or Continental Championships since the beginning of July in 2012:

Laura Alleway, Mackenzie Arnold, Mia Bailey, Angela Beard, Georgia Beaumont, Savannah Boller, Eliza Campbell, Kim Carroll, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Larissa Crummer, Isobel Dalton, Casey Dumont, Charlotte Farmer, Ciara Fowler, Mary Fowler, Sunny Franco, Shekinah Friske, Emily Gielnik, Brooke Goodrich, Katrina Gorry, Winonah Heatley, Elise Kellond-Knight, India Kubin, Aivi Luik, Afrikah McGladrigan, Teagan Micah, Ayesha Norrie (Kirby), Hollie Palmer, Clare Polkinghorne, Kezia Pritchard, Hayley Raso, Jamilla Rankin, Taylor Ray, Indiah-Paige Riley, Arina Tokunaga, Kaitlyn Torpey, Cortnee Vine, Natasha Wheeler, Brittany Whitfield, Tameka Yallop (Butt).

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