I would imagine that one of the cardinal rules of graphic design and/or fashion is that you can't please all the people all of the time. After all, taste is subjective and it would be unreasonable to expect a group of people as passionate as football fans to reach an agreement on what constitutes a good football kit, especially since, as Jerry Seinfeld once famously suggested, given how frequently players change teams fans are essentially cheering for laundry.
But, with a few minor exceptions, it seemed like most Roma fans were pleased with the Nike aesthetic over the past several years. It is quite hard to screw up a color combination as classic as Roma's, but by and large, Nike provided the Giallorossi with some stunning shirts and some of the best training gear money could buy.
Speaking of money, or the lack thereof, dating back to the earliest days of the club's deal with Nike, Roma's owners, be it James Pallotta or Dan Friedkin, were never quite satisfied with the financial terms of their kit deal and sought to renegotiate the deal multiple times over the past few years.
In essence, they liked the shirts but weren't getting a large enough piece of the pie on the backend; marketing and distribution. As a result, Roma decided to sever ties with Nike this past July and welcomed a miniature bidding war between the likes of Adidas, Under Armour, Puma, and reportedly darkhorse candidates like Reebok, Castore, and New Balance.
And, as we discussed in October, it seems like New Balance have won the war:
Roma vicina all'accordo con New Balance. Le ipotesi per le maglie 2021 2022. FOTOhttps://t.co/1UtHcTcgis— skysport (@SkySport) January 16, 2021
According to multiple sources in the Italian media, including Sky, Il Tempo and the Corriere dello Sport, Roma will soon announce a new three-year deal with New Balance, set to begin with the 2021-2022 season. Per these reports, the deal will pay Roma €4 million per year, one million less than their current Nike deal, but the club stands to make a larger percentage of the actual shirt sales, reportedly as high as 40%.
While the deal isn't yet complete, these sources all agree that the announcement is imminent and that New Balance has already submitted potential designs to the club, including a four shirt range for next season, including corresponding footwear lines. Footy Headlines has some interesting conceptual designs/mockups, too.
Nike is the undisputed king of this arena, so Nike-heads are bound to be disappointed by this news, but we'll have to reserve final judgment once the deal is announced and the kits are revealed. But from a financial perspective, this makes a ton of sense provided that New Balance can come close to matching the production and distribution capabilities of Nike. Earning a larger portion of the actual royalties should enable Roma to make up for the smaller chunk of upfront money.
But...to play devil's advocate, cruise on over to the New Balance site and type in ‘Porto’, the companies current top football client, and you find two measly results. Make no mistake, this is a gamble for Roma, who are banking on New Balance making the Giallorossi their top priority.
However, one might also view this marriage as a symbiotic gamble. Roma has more bargaining power with New Balance precisely because they're not a traditional football company, so they stand to make more money than they would've with Nike or Adidas, while New Balance is betting that Roma's profile will boost theirs in turn, allowing New Balance to make further gains in the lucrative footballing market; something they've struggled to do, despite making in-roads in MLB and the NBA.
Essentially, it's a “one hand washes the other” sort of deal. If it succeeds, both parties stand to profit, but if it flounders, New Balance will have struck out twice with larger clubs (following their brief stint with Liverpool), while Roma will be back to square one, scrambling to find a decent kit deal.