Released in 1998, the Sega Dreamcast was ahead of its time in a lot of ways: its detachable portables prefigured the Nintendo Switch, flagship title Shenmue was one of the first fully open worlds in gaming, and it offered online play years before it became the norm.
It all sounds great, but it was really terrible: the games available for those portables would be put to shame by the hidden dinosaur jumping game packaged with the Chrome browser (you’re welcome), Shenmue was largely dull as hell, and online gaming was a non-starter in the 56k modem age.
It was also ahead of its time in that the console sponsored Arsenal from 1999-2001, when Arsenal were pretty damn good. Clearly, they would actually be much better suited to Arsenal 2007-present: looks good on paper, doesn’t actually work properly in reality and condemned to inevitable failure.
We were going to suggest Opel, who don’t even exist in this country (being badged as Vauxhall instead) but that would have made Bournemouth fans feel like they were watching AC Milan 1994-2006.
Then we remembered that Milan’s very first shirt sponsor was a company called Pooh Jeans, and now we can’t stop imagining poor Eddie Howe’s little embarrassed face as he walks around wearing a raincoat that suggests he’s had a little accident in his kecks. And because of that you can now also look forward to “every Premier League manager ranked by how likely we think they are to have shit themselves recently”.
Bonus fact for that Arsenal entry:
There’s an advert for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute that opens with a first-person perspective of what it’s like to be drowning in the cold, cold sea. The thrust of the advert is that your instinct will be to fight and struggle to get to the surface, but doing so means you’ll also instinctively gulp mouthfuls of water into your lungs. You’re much better off resisting the urge to fight and letting yourself float to the surface so you can breathe normally.
The advert ends with the words ‘FIGHT YOUR INSTINCT‘ appearing across the screen, and I’ve always thought it would be really funny if the next line of text that appeared was ‘VISIT BRIGHTON’.
That. That’s what I want on the shirts.
Nobody better than Cockburns Port: not only is the word ‘burn’ in there to indicate the town itself, but it’s sandwiched between something very much like claret and a bit of blue. That’s what you call ‘brand synergy’, if you’re a c**t.
Another video game one, though rather more up-to-date than the Sega Dreamcast. Now their Red kit is Dead, they have a shot at Redemption in their 2nd go at the Premier League.
More importantly, we’d get a photoshoot of Neil Warnock and his squad dressed as cowboys, which is something we could all enjoy, not least Warnock himself, who would definitely be well into that. Imagine his little face as he went around imagining himself as Gary Cooper.
Pensions, boots, and buns are all viable candidates, as well as being a good title for a rather less problematic Cher song. Let’s go with Boots, since that’s actually the name of a company and typographically similar enough to old sponsors Coors to ride the 90s nostalgia train.
One of the most under-rated aspects of a good shirt sponsor is whether it can be replicated in the early Pro Evolution games or in a child’s drawings, both of which offer a similar level of graphical fidelity. And you can’t beat former Chelsea sponsor Autoglass on that score: their logo was literally just the name of the company written in all-caps in the world’s plainest sans-serif font.
We would suggest that it should go back on the Chelsea shirts, but the good-but-unimaginative people at Yokohama Tyres seem similarly incapable of admitting the graphic design course they paid £1,200 for was a massive scam, so it would be a bit of a waste. So why not give it to the side formerly known as the Glaziers instead?
The Royal Mint, for similar reasons to Burnley. Just such a shame Joe Royle isn’t in charge anymore. Or Howard Kendall, for that matter.
I dunno, what do pleasant but posh people like? Like, doing your weekly shop at an M&S Foodhall? Nice candlesticks or something? Can you just put “Nice Candlesticks” on a shirt without it looking like the kind of tedious garment you’d find in great supply at Affleck’s Palace/Leeds Corn Exchange/Camden market/[insert your own regional teenage tat merchant here] in between shirts bearing legends like ‘I Like The Pope, The Pope Smokes Dope’ and ‘I Poke Badgers With Spoons’?
The main problem with writing articles like this is that it leads people with no sense of humour to come to the mistaken impression that such t-shirts are right up your alley and buy you them for Secret Santa. Don’t do this.
I’d quite like a Fulham shirt that says “Nice Candlesticks” though.
They’re getting relegated anyway, who cares?
Has to be Walkers Crisps. Leicester have never felt quite right without them and that league title win will always feel hollow until they repeat it with the Walkers logo emblazoning their shirts.
What better sponsor could there be for an irritatingly self-aggrandising team that isn’t actually very good than an irritatingly self-aggrandising beer that also isn’t actually very good?
Liverpool and Carlsberg really were a match made in heaven between 1992 and 2010, but now that they’re actually looking pretty good, they need an irritatingly self-aggrandising beer that is, to be fair, pretty decent. That’s BrewDog, then.
Glamorous style? Trying to create a monopoly on success? Fans of a behind-the-scenes documentary that presents history in an overly-positive light? Hoovering up all the best talent around? The beneficiaries of morally-dubious money from the middle east? Manchester City, meet your new sponsors: WWE.
If they are truly committed to bringing back the nebulously-defined ‘United way’ that Gary Neville and co like to bang on about, then surely they have to bring back Sharp as their sponsor.
United previously wore the electronics company’s logo from 1982 to 2000, and apparently they’re still a very popular brand, even though not a single person alive is capable of even imagining any of their products ever looking more modern than hi-fi with twin tape deck, or a CRT TV with built-in VCR which you use to watch endless hours of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
OK, so there isn’t actually any such side, but Wolves are not exactly rife with comedic potential: as a relatively small club that’s actually doing quite well, it is irritatingly difficult to make fun of them, and we don’t want to finish on our weakest material. Not all of these are going to be 10/10 stuff, you know? But we’re committed to the premise now, so we’re all just going to have to push through to the bitter end together.
Another club who should have a sponsor in the fortified wine trade. After all, what would Wolves be if they weren’t profiting from some of Portugal’s finest exports?
See. Told you it was weak. Or meak, I guess.
Boring answer, but for similar reasons to Leicester, no Newcastle side will ever feel proper unless they’re wearing some variation of the Newcastle Brown Ale logo – preferably the one that was a big star containing a silhouette of the Newcastle skyline. Advertising alcohol on garments primarily aimed at children is definitely more than a little bit tasteless, but it almost verges on forgivable when it just feels as right as that.
Since all that sweet transfer money has dried up, it seems only right that Liverpool FC should become the Saints’ confusing new shirt sponsor. What conflict of interest?
Winks, Redknapp, Kane, Mabbutt if you have a cold: Kidderminster may be the Harriers, but Tottenham are the Harryests. And Neil Ruddock used to play for them, too! Harry’s Razors it is.
The third and final club with a port-based sponsor: the UK’s two most popular brands are Grahams and Taylors. One for the home kit, one for the away kit. Perfect.
Like your old granny always used to say: ‘If you’re already inside one white elephant, you might as well make it two’.
Former Everton chest-botherers Chang Beer are perfect, then, especially if they bring Changy the Elephant to the London Stadium with them. We reckon he could even be taught to blow bubbles through his trunk, which would be just delightful.
Maybe we should have closed on Wolves after all, in hindsight.
Steven Chicken is on Twitter, for what it’s worth.