If you’re like me, you were disappointed to see Atlanta United abandon their “Five Stripes” kit design after two seasons. When other supporters talk about us they mock the club for having no tradition. Tradition has to start somewhere and having the kit reflect the nickname that has gained mainstream popularity really felt like the start of something.
are y'all still the five stripes even though this is not five stripes?— Ben Bromley (@BRUBromley) February 16, 2019
The reason why the club has switched to a new look isn’t too hard to figure out. I have a saying. Whenever there is a question of “why?” in soccer, the answer is almost always money. This is certainly the case in this instance. Atlanta United have been at the top of MLS in merchandise sales since before they even started playing matches. The desire to stay on top is likely a strong one.
Looking at it from purely a business perspective it makes perfect sense. When the decision makers are making their plans they are asking how can we entice those who already have a kit to buy a new one? If you have a repetitive product that you need to consistently sell, you have to make changes. It’s similar to EA Sports and their FIFA franchise. They make certain gameplay changes and implement roster updates every single year to get their customers to splash the cash.
The average fan’s concerns aren’t about the club making a profit. Their main worries are how much things cost, how things look and how things operate. Your uncle isn’t contemplating profit margins when laying down $149.99 to look cool when going to games.
But realistically, Atlanta United making money is good for everyone. It allows Darren Eales to go to Arthur Blank with cold hard facts and figures to justify signing the reigning South American Player of the Year for one of the biggest transfer fees in MLS history.
Abandoning what could have been a traditional look is a big gamble on the club’s part. You risk disappointing supporters who have grown to love the identity that has sprang to life over the past few years. While I’m no design expert, I have to believe there are ways to consistently tweak the Five Stripes kit theme every few years to get supporters to crave it. Instead they have chosen to go a completely different route to something that resembles an AC Milan knockoff that Adidas churned out at the last minute.
If the end goal is always to make as much money as possible, perhaps listening to fans is a better long term strategy than following the cash-grab ways of EA Sports that has their sales and stock steadily declining.
This is not a rant or plea to not buy the new kit. Please do whatever your heart tells you. Personally, I enjoy the club signing fantastic soccer players. If abandoning a kit design helps towards that, then so be it. This is just an explanation for those wondering why they would make the changes they have made. Why? The answer is usually the same in soccer.