Forget pre-season friendlies, the buildup to new English Premier League season has been all about the battle of the kits and the lucrative sponsorship deals linked to them.
If the EPL title was decided on this basis then Manchester United would undoubtedly top the table and the Red Devils chose the weekend before the start of the 2015/16 campaign to unveil its new strip, sponsored by German sportswear manufacturer Adidas.
The deal, worth a reported £75 million ($117m) per year, was first announced in July 2014, but could not come into force until a 13-season contract with Nike had expired.
The value of the Nike deal per year was roughly a third than the new arrangement, such has been the explosion in commercial revenues for the top European club sides.
For the 2015/16 season, the likes of Wayne Rooney and new signings Bastian Schweinsteiger and Memphis Depay will don a new strip which the club said was a “classic design”.
United group managing director Richard Arnold said “Everyone at Manchester United is very proud of the shirt, which draws upon the club’s iconic kits of yesteryear.”
It is the first time Adidas has made United’s strip for 24 years and will be seen in competitive action for the first time when Louis van Gaal’s team hosts Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday August 8.
Meanwhile champion Chelsea remains with Adidas, but has a new shirt sponsor in Japanese tire manufacturer Yokohama, reportedly paying £40 million ($62.5m) annually for the privilege.
It was unveiled ahead of Chelsea’s tour of the United States and will be in full show to home fans Sunday at the traditional curtain raiser to the English season, the Community Shield.
Chelsea’s opponents at Wembley, FA Cup winner Arsenal, has also updated its strip and having rung the sponsorship changes last summer by switching from Nike to Puma, an arch-rival of Adidas.
Liverpool has also changed manufacturer to wear New Balance kits for the 2015/16 season, but Manchester City has stayed loyal to U.S. corporation Nike for its shirts.
Aside from the top revenue earning clubs, Everton chose an unusual theme to launch its third strip, presenting its star players as comic book super heroes, the work of fan and Marvel Comics illustrator Will Sliney.
Outside of the EPL, Spanish and European champion Barcelona is breaking with tradition by donning hooped rather than striped home kit for the new season, but only the superstitious will believe this will prevent the likes of Lionel Messi from repeating its successes.