The story behind the jerseys of English Premier League (EPL) players has been revealed. Son Heung-min (Tottenham) and Hwang Hee-chan (Wolverhampton – pictured) reportedly have the best-selling jerseys for their teams.
American sports publication Athletic recently published an article titled “The Secret and Surprising World of Premier League Jerseys”. “Selling jerseys is not only a fashion accessory for die-hard supporters, it’s also big business, and new ideas in design and marketing are helping the business boom ahead of Black Friday and Christmas,” the publication said.
Athletic has named 20 players, one from each of the current Premier League teams, whose jerseys sell the most. Elling Holland (Manchester City), Muhammad Salah (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), and Xherdan Shaqiri (Arsenal) made the list, along with Son Heung-min and Hwang Hee-chan. “With City winning three titles last season, shirts with the number nine on them are selling like hotcakes,” said The Athletic, adding that “Judd Bellingham (Real Madrid) is chasing Holland, although he is not a Premier League player.” Bellingham’s transfer fee is estimated at €130 million ($147.2 million) and his salary at €20 million ($285 million). It’s generally assumed that a large number of jerseys sold would cover the huge transfer fee.
However, Steve Martin, CEO of marketing firm M&C, dismissed the idea that jersey sales would cover the transfer fee, saying, “It’s ridiculous.” “It made sense for Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United and now Holland,” said a Premier League insider, “but in big signings, unless you have a core following in a big country or the player is a superstar in his own right, it’s hard to cover the transfer fee from shirt sales.”
A former Premier League scorer, Son Heung-min is now the captain of Tottenham. With Harry Kane’s departure to Bayern Munich, he is the best-selling Spurs player and the most popular Asian player in the world. According to sportswear specialist Fanatics, Son has sold the fifth most jerseys across Europe since the start of this season. “Hwang Hee-chan also sells more shirts than anyone else in his club,” said The Athletic, “and his revenue has increased more than 12 times in South Korea in the two years since he moved to Wolverhampton.”
A recent trend is for fans to wear their favorite player’s number and have their name on the shirt, rather than the player’s. “It’s to emphasize the authenticity of the player,” says The Athletic, “and younger fans tend to like the player rather than the club.” Of course, clubs charge an extra fee to put the fan’s name on the jersey. It’s also worth noting that there are many different types of jerseys on sale, with different fonts and designs.
All Premier League clubs wear uniforms with the same font for league play, but for other domestic competitions, such as the Football Association (FA) Cup, and European competitions, such as the Champions League, clubs are free to use their own fonts. “Every club has its own font for European games,” said an official from Elms Marketing, a company specializing in sportswear customization and personalization, “and with the diversity of designs, uniform printing has become an attractive and unique culture.”
The length of player names has also been suggested to have an impact on jersey sales, although it is not easy to understand in Korea, where most names are three characters long. For Liverpool, one player who has sold a lot of jerseys early on this season is Hungarian striker Dominik Szoboszlai. He moved to Liverpool this summer from Leipzig in Germany for a transfer fee of £60 million. His attractive playing style and increased orders from Hungary are the main factors that have boosted jersey sales, but his 10-letter surname has also had an impact, according to industry analysts. “The ‘Szoboszlai 8’ is a beautiful combination of different letters in perfect proportions,” said an industry insider, “It may sound silly, but being easy on the eyes is also a factor in jersey sales.”