Second-tier English soccer side Aston Villa have announced a ‘ground-breaking’ technical sponsorship deal with global apparel and merchandise giant Fanatics and local premium menswear brand Luke 1977.
The three-way partnership will see Fanatics manufacture the Championship team’s kits for the 2018/19 season, with Luke 1977 set to play a key role in the design element of the uniforms, while the company’s logo will also be visible on the shirt.
The agreement sees Villa expand their relationship with Fanatics, which already manages the club’s official store at their Villa Park home.
Fanatics is renowned for its partnerships with North America’s major sports leagues, including the National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) and National Hockey League (NHL).
The deal makes Villa the first English club to adopt the North American manufacturing model whereby Fanatics will manage the new kit from production to point-of-sale.
“Aston Villa Football Club is proud to pioneer an exciting new tripartite technical kit partnership,” said the club’s chief commercial officer, Luke Organ. “Traditional routes often leave the club lacking an element of creative input, we wanted to take back control of the look and feel of the strip for our fans. We believe this partnership will further allow us to engage with the fans to a much greater extent than previously experienced with manufacturing partners.
“The deal with Luke 1977 and Fanatics represents a true partnership. All parties work collaboratively to deliver the very best product for our fans. Extending our prosperous relationship with Fanatics can only benefit the Villa faithful and working with Luke 1977, headed by lifelong Villa fan Luke Roper, is indicative of our commitment to the Aston Villa fanbase.
“As a club we are determined to lead the industry in every way that benefits our fans. We continually innovate off the field, providing the very best fan experience we can.”
Ed Boardman, Fanatics international managing director, said: “As an existing partner, we recognise the passionate fanbase that Villa has and we’re delighted to add our manufacturing expertise to this new and exciting partnership.
“The design process was led by our product development team and overall, the new arrangement reflects a unique manufacturing model that offers collaborative opportunities for fashion-led brands such as Luke to enter this previously inaccessible sport.”
“As part of the pride and a lifelong Villa supporter, it is a huge honour to be asked to bring my 20 years of design experience to the creation of the new kits,” added Luke Roper, Luke 1977’s creative director. “I have worked closely in collaboration with both Aston Villa and Fanatics, which demonstrates a fresh approach to design and a commitment to give more back to the supporters. Every time a Villa fan sees the kits, they will know that one of their own has been a part of the design process.”
Villa kept their slim hopes of automatic promotion alive with an emphatic 4-0 win away to Ipswich on Saturday. They host Derby County in their next game on Saturday.