Sheffield United: Could we be set for the first indication that United World is going to be a big talking point at Bramall Lane?
The first tangible effect of the United World project could soon be felt at Bramall Lane with Sheffield United shortly set to decide whether to renew their partnership with kit manufacturers Adidas or broker a deal with another supplier.
The present agreement, which expires at the end of the Championship season, is expected to be discussed at board level later this month as United’s hierarchy review all aspects of the club’s operations.
One recurring theme of yesterday’s media conference, ostensibly called to confirm Slavisa Jokanovic’s sacking and Paul Heckingbottom’s appointment as manager, was the importance those in charge of the club place on the UW network; a collection of teams, established by owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, which also includes Beerschot, Chateauroux, Kerala United and Al-Hilal United.
Indeed, as chairman Yusuf Giansiracusa indicated UW is central to the “strategic vision” which prompted Jokanovic’s departure, the organisation’s figurehead Abdullah Alghamdi was also invited to speak at Heckingbottom’s unveiling.
The “synergy” Giansiracusa identified as one of his “three central pillars” could now extend to clothing with the possibility Adidas or one of their rivals could be asked to provide apparel for every side beneath the UW umbrella.
One factor which could influence the outcome of those discussions is how payments from the German multinational to its clients are staged. Europe’s biggest sportswear company and the second largest in the world, they prefer to spread them over the course of a contract. However smaller firms, such as Errea and Lotto, can be inclined to ‘front load’ deals in order to increase their market share.
Errea, whose headquarters are situated just outside the Italian city of Parma, currently work with the likes of Queens Park Rangers, Walsall and Milton Keynes Dons.
Given that Adidas and their biggest competitor Nike are also popular fashion brands, the attraction of joining forces with a company willing to hand over an immediate lump sum must be weighed against the potential loss of sales relating to other leisurewear bearing the club crest.
United extended their relationship with Adidas last summer, releasing a statement describing the quality of the products on offer as “exceptional”.