Last month I talked about the release of our new season shirts but since last month’s edition, we have released a new third shirt. According to the club blurb, it’s a dark kit with a vibrant gradient font fade, inspired by architecture of our iconic stadium, but to others, it’s a Millwall coloured shirt with random triangles on the bottom of it.
Irrespective of the difference in design from our home and away shirts, it too costs £75. But it’s not the cost I’m going to talk about again this month – but instead, value. Due to the lofty pricing structure, it may well be that fans are left with a decision whereby they can only afford to buy one shirt, so which of them would be the better one to buy?
Well, first and foremost, I guess hindsight plays a part, as it’s always best to get a shirt that holds iconic memories or moments. Last season’s third shirt spent half of the season on sale at a reduced rate of £39.50 as seemingly no one wanted one, but as soon as we won the Conference League wearing it, it became iconic.
That said, shirts are sometimes hard to garner some of these iconic moments we associate them with, simply because they are only ever linked to one season at a time. For example, the famous Admiral kit with claret body and blue V-shaped chest is automatically remembered fondly and associated with the likes of Brooking, Bonds and Devonshire because we wore it from 1976 until 1980, so a number of years to link a fondness with it.
In fact, taking legendary left back Frank Lampard Snr as a marker, in his 17 years as a first team player he only ever wore four designs of home kits. Current left back Aaron Cresswell is on his 10th design. Even our most recent multi year offering, the Reebok 2005-07 home kit, can be rightly associated with some iconic moments – the 2005 play off Win, our 2006 FA Cup Run, the 2007 Great Escape and of course Carlos Tevez.
But since that shirt, its been one a year, and long term attachments have been difficult to garner.
So what of the current shirts? And to the question of how do you assess what represents value for a shirt? Looking at it statistically, you’d obviously want to get the home shirt as you’re guaranteed it to be used in a minimum of 19 games, but the use of the Away and third kits can be hit and miss.
Many clubs needlessly use their change kits in order to market them, but thankfully, West Ham seem not to be one of those. Based upon 2022/23 season stats, we used our home shirt in 30 of our 38 Premier League games, making them third in the League for most worn shirts behind Wolves (32) and Leicester (31).
In comparison Brentford wore their home shirts a paltry 23 times. This meant that if you work out the £65 price of last season’s shirt per the time it was worn by the club (league only) then it works out to have cost £2.16 every time worn. The away and third shirts are where value becomes questionable. West Ham wore both of theirs only four times each, meaning they both worked out to be £16.25 for each time the shirts were worn.
However, feel sorry for any Wolves fans who were big fans of their away kit, as it was only worn a twice all season. I guess what this means is that our club does at least value tradition over commercial opportunity.
This means that our first choice colours are worn 78% of the time, including 58% of our away games. To compare these statistics to other sides in the Premier League, Arsenal wore their away shirt a whopping 10 times. Sure, it offers value for money, but at what cost to the clubs traditions?
With our classic blue shirt with two claret hoops at the forefront, it can be argued that away shirts can reflect the club’s traditions. Man City’s away kit last year was in their traditional change colours of red and black stripes. Sadly though, they only wore this four times, compared to nine outings for their horrendous luminous yellow third shirt.
Looking towards this current season, Leicester and Leeds have gone, where we wore home kits away at each of those teams. If you replace them with Luton and Burnley, we’re likely to need to change for both of those.
Southampton for Sheffield United makes little difference, given how they wear pretty much the same kit. By my reckoning, we’ll be able to wear the home kit at eight different away games, giving it 27 outings.
Given the change of the away kit to white, I think we can expect this to be worn seven times (Villa, Bournemouth, Burnley, Palace, Liverpool, Man Utd and Forest) with the blue third kit likely to be worn four times (Arsenal, Brentford, Luton and Sheffield Utd). With the prices now at £75, this would give values of home at £2.77 per time used, away at £10.70 per time used and the third shirt £18.75 per time used.
The statistical conclusion therefore would be that the home shirt is the best value to buy. But hey, if we based all of our football decisions on statistics, we’d unlikely be West Ham fans. So buy whichever one you like the design of the most, and ideally, let it be whatever shirt we wear in Dublin come May!