Earlier today, Roma dropped a bombshell on sneaker/kit heads, terminating their ten-year deal with Nike ahead of schedule (though there remains the possibility that Nike ended the deal). In the official release, the club state simply that this move will allow them to explore “new opportunities in the equipment and licensing space.” In other words: Roma want more money out their kit manufacturing deal. While everyone in football is chasing Real Madrid's €120 million a year deal with Adidas, Roma won't even come close to sniffing that mark, but by ending their agreement early, we can only assume Roma like their chances of striking a stronger and more lucrative technical sponsorship deal.
With that in mind, why not run through some of the likely contenders to be Roma's next kit manufacturer? This isn't a ranking, just a quick look at the possible options.
The Baltimore-based company is no stranger to football clubs, having been Tottenham Hotspur's kit supplier between 2014 and 2017, but a quick Google search shows that UA are in a spot of bother right now. After pulling out of a 15-year, $280 million deal with UCLA, backing out of their ten-year deal with Major League Baseball, seeing their relationship with Steph Curry frayed and reportedly even searching for buyers for their MyFitnessPal app, Under Armour is suddenly reeling, posting losses in net income each of the past two years and seeing their stock prices plummet more than $30 a share from its 2015 peaks.
When word that Roma were looking to leave Nike popped up earlier this month, Under Armor was the first company mentioned as a replacement, but considering everything we just mentioned, it's fair to ask if they'd be able to provide the club with a more lucrative deal than Nike anyway.
Under Armour once seemed like a legitimate threat to Nike's perch at the top of the sporting goods world, but they've failed to build off their early successes and have virtually no presence in European football anymore, so they'd have to offer Roma a honeypot of a deal to make the leap.
Always a sentimental favorite, Kappa, Roma's kit supplier for most of the new millennium, are very much the small fish in this particular pond, but there is no doubt about it: they ace the creativity test. The problem for the nostalgic lot among us is the simple fact that Kappa cannot compete with the giant, multinational companies on this list, so a Roma reunion would seem like a long shot.
Besides, they put, like, eight logos on every shirt. No thanks.
In the world of football kits, if you're not with Nike, then you're likely with Adidas. The German-based brand with three stripes is one of the true heavyweights in the world of athletic gear, raking in over €21 billion in revenue in 2018 alone. With clubs like Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Juventus on their roster, Adidas is about as elite as they come, and indeed Roma have worn the famous three stripes multiple times in their 90 plus year history.
Adidas have four of the ten biggest kit deals in football at the moment, so they're no strangers to splashing cash on famous football clubs, but Roma aren't likely to land in the same sponsorship stratosphere as some of the clubs we just mentioned.
I'm not a huge fan of Adidas in any respect—never liked their shoes and their three stripes are too rigid a design element for my liking—but if you're going to leave Giant Company A (Nike), you might as well sign with Giant Company B.
Another German manufacturer, Puma pulls up well behind Adidas and Nike in the global market place, earning a paltry €4.6 billion in revenue in 2018. Despite falling so far behind their two main competitors, Puma know how to go big, signing Manchester City to a €75.3 million per year sponsorship deal. Roma won't likely fetch a deal of that magnitude, but Puma did ink AC Milan to a shirt deal worth a reported €10 to €15 million per year.
For the moment, Puma are a bit of a niche brand and tend to provoke extreme reactions, but when they get a kit right, it's usually a standout shirt—take their Italian renaissance collection for example.
A relatively newbie to the world of football kits is the grand daddy of, well, dad shoes: New Balance, who have kitted out Liverpool since 2017, though their deal will expire after this season. New Balance make some of the best running shoes around but have a relatively light list of football clients, one that will take a massive ding once Liverpool bolts for Nike next season.
On the plus side, they don't have a garish logo splashed all over their shirts and seem to play it safe with most of their clients, but much like any of the non-Nike or Adidas names on this list, you have to wonder if their manufacturing and advertising capacity matches Roma's ambitions.
This one is just wishful thinking on my part, but you'd be hard pressed to find a single athletic apparel brand that carries more weight, cachet and coolness than the Jordan Brand. While they're traditionally associated with basketball, Jordan Brand have been quietly expanding their reach into other sports in recent years, moving into running, baseball, a newly relaunched women's collection and outfitting the University of Michigan football team.
Then there is their deal with PSG, signed in 2018. While it was initially just a lifestyle/casual collection deal, Jordan has actually produced some stunning third and fourth kits for Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and the rest of the Parisians.
It’d be a leap for Jordan to become a full-time football kit supplier, but their work with Michigan has proven that they know how to scale up operations. So if Roma are looking to take a chance on a unique yet globally identifiable brand, Jordan could be a legitimate option.
Wait? What? Hear me out...
Whether it was Roma or the Swoosh that reneged the deal, Nike will remain on board through the end of the 2020-2021 season, by which time A LOT may change in the Eternal City. Roma could rebound and become an appealing Champions League team again, but even if they remain mired in the Europa League, the sale of the club could change everything. Let's say a new owner is officially in place within the next six months, could we completely rule out a new deal being hammered out between Nike and Friedkin, that Kuwaiti guy or even Scrooge McDuck?
Money talks and if there is renewed mutual interest between Nike and a new Roma leadership group, things could come together rather quickly.
Or maybe they'll just bring back those Roma Cares shirts from 2013-2014, those were dope.
Who should make Roma's kits?
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