FSC Approved – 2020 Leicester City away shirt
As the final whistle blew in the 2021 FA Cup final, there were contrasting shirt storylines on either side of the pitch.
In the blue corner the first chapter of the new Chelsea shirt closed under rather unfortunate circumstances.
The bold new design was given its debut runout on the biggest of stages, but though the kit got many people talking (not least for the matching shorts) the shirt ultimately ended up on the losing side, the look pegged back months before its full usage in the 2021/22 season (the shirt would later be on the losing side of another cup final for the Women’s Champions League).
Opposite Chelsea, the closing chapter of the 2020 Leicester City away shirt was finishing on the highest possible note.
Despite being a template with little more than a bespoke colourway to shout about, the shirt was privileged to have been worn by the victorious Leicester side lifting the FA Cup for the first time in their history following four failed attempts. Throughout the 2020/21 season the shirt had been garnering its fair share of supporters despite its relatively low key release, and the cup final solidified the legacy of a shirt which had no right to be so memorable.
You see, all major manufacturers have a tiered system when it comes to football shirt deals, and Leicester fell outside the top tier for manufacturer adidas. In many ways you can’t blame adidas, there are many practical reasons a brand would structure their various kit contracts in order to favour the bigger deals where more money is ultimately exchanged each year.
Teams like Leicester, though having a significant profile in their own right, aren’t afforded the luxury of a completely bespoke design and are instead consigned to working with a number of customisable “miadidas” templates. These templates carry with them more freedom than something completely off the shelf though (as you’d typically see from adidas manufactured teams further down the pyramid), and crucially Leicester made the most of this opportunity by rolling with a maroon and white colour scheme which stood out from the pack.
Maroon was not a colour associated with Leicester City before 2020, and what I appreciated about the release at the time was that there was no overly-manufactured storyline to accompany the official launch of the shirt. This wasn’t a colour scheme “hand-picked to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that time a fan wore a maroon jacket to a game”, this was simply a well-chosen colour scheme that complemented the traditional home and away tandem of blue and white.
What’s more, the relatively clean nature of the shirt did the design no harm. In an era where more and more kits are seeking to ‘generate a conversation’ and cause a stir on social media (as with the defeated Chelsea home shirt), there’s plenty of room at the table for a shirt that forgoes any sort of eye-watering patterns. Though this was largely out of Leicester’s hands given the nature of their adidas contract, it’s a fortunate end result nonetheless.
Now, with a major trophy under their belt and a potential top 4 finish to boot, maroon will be a colour associated with Leicester for the rest of time. Not bad for a template.
What is FSC Approved?
What makes a football shirt good? It’s a purely subjective question, right?
Whilst there are indeed a lot of subjective elements when it comes to shirts, there are still factors to consider. Sometimes, a design is notable for its unique aesthetic. The colourway, pattern or construction may have gone where no shirt dared to go before it, or it might simply be a particularly good utilisation of a classic approach. Other times, a legendary player elevates a design to immortality, even if the design in question would’ve been hard to pick out of a crowd before.
Our series FSC Approved will be a lovingly curated list of shirts that deserve to be in the conversation as good, possibly even great football shirts, no matter who you support or what your taste in shirts is. Old classics, new contenders, if it’s FSC Approved it’s as close to a certified banger as you can get.