Admiral Sportswear


Admiral is an English sport equipment brand, mostly focused on association football. Admiral was originally created as an undergarment brand in 1914, then switching to sportswear. It reached the peak of its success in the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s through a series of football team sponsorships.

Admiral
Product typeSportswear
OwnerAdmiral Sportswear Ltd.[1]
Introduced1914; 107 years ago (1914)
by Cook & Hurst Ltd.[2]
MarketsWorldwide
Previous ownersCook and Hurst (1914)
Tagline"Worn by Champions"
Websiteadmiralsportswear.com

Some of the teams most notably sponsored by Admiral were the England national team, Leeds United, Manchester United, and some teams of now-defunct NASL.[3]

The Admiral brand was brought back to life by a Manchester firm established by a local entrepreneur,[4] "Admiral Sportswear Ltd.", which in 2011 acquired rights to manufacture and market footwear, clothing and accessories.[1]

History


Beginning

Female workers of the Cook & Hurst factory, photographed c. 1914

"Cook & Hurst Ltd.", a Leicester-based manufacturing company of underwear established by Christopher Cook and Harold Hurst in Wigston in 1908, created the 'Admiral' trademark in 1914 to brand their products. When England won the World Cup in 1966, Bert Patrick, the owner of Cook & Hurst Ltd, commenced manufacturing and marketing football kits.[5] The kits sales were aimed at the juvenile market and through selling connections in the sports retail trade. Bert Patrick believed that the advent of coloured television would enable him to persuade football clubs to accept personalised kits which his designers would produce and then register them under the Design Copyright Act. There was stiff opposition to his ideas from all sections of the public.

1970s: Leeds and England

Through its connection with Leeds United, Admiral pioneered the introduction and development of the replica kit market in the UK.[6] In the 1973–74 season, Leeds United wore the first visibly branded kit in the English top flight.[7]

Realising the potential of the replica kit market, Admiral brokered a deal with the Football Association in 1974 to produce the first commercially available England shirt that featured a sportswear manufacturers logo. They agreed a five-year contract for a starting payment of £15,000 a year or a 10 per cent royalty.

Other clubs

Admiral signed up other big clubs alongside Leeds United, such as Manchester United,[2] Coventry City, Portsmouth, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton, and West Ham. It also developed outside England, signing sides Aberdeen, Dundee and Motherwell in Scotland, Yugoslavian club Red Star Belgrade, Bundesliga outfit Eintracht Frankfurt, the Italian clubs Bologna and Monza, the Swiss club Servette, Swedish giants Malmö, and the Indian club Kerala Blasters, in addition to the national teams of Belgium, Saudi Arabia and Wales. Admiral also produced kits for many of the NASL teams during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and had a replica licensing deal with some clubs, and for two seasons produced the uniforms for every team in the MISL.

1980s: Decline and rebirth

A signed Admiral England jersey exhibited in Spain. This model was worn from 1980 to 1983 [8]

Admiral began the decade with the launch of a new England kit in 1980,[8][9] the first new kit in nearly 6 years. This kit was first worn in a 3–1 win over Argentina at Wembley Stadium on 13 May, and lasted until 1983.[10] However, the 1980s marked a period of decline for the Admiral brand, as it began to lose the contracts with the major clubs to domestic rival Umbro and new international entrant Adidas.

Even though Admiral still held the England kit contract, one of the most valuable in the world[citation needed], the company was declared bankrupt in 1982. The brand reappeared on the market for the 1983–84 season producing the same double pinstripe design for both Leicester City and Notts County. Towards the end of the 1980s Bradford City, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Hull City, Swansea City and Wrexham were added to the Admiral roster. It was also the first ever kit maker of Inverness Caledonian Thistle.[citation needed]

1990s

Admiral entered the 1990s well placed to build upon its widespread recognition and continued to supply clubs including Dynamo Kiev, Southampton, Middlesbrough, Bradford City, Charlton Athletic, Wimbledon, Hearts, Motherwell, Rangers, Partizan Belgrade and many more. In 1992 after Leeds United had won the last Football League division One title before the advent of the Premier League they negotiated a deal to make their kits for the following season.

After a period of relative inactivity during the mid-1990s, the Admiral trademark was acquired by Hay & Robertson plc in 1997, and ownership was transferred to International Brand Licensing plc in a demerger in 2002.

2000 and beyond

In 2000, Admiral entered the world of cricket and was the official kit supplier to the England cricket team until 2008 (the sponsorship was then taken over by Adidas). By 2001, it had also become the kit supplier to the West Indies and South Africa cricket teams as well as supplying the Canadian team for the 2003 Cricket World Cup held in South Africa. However, Admiral kept its connection with English football by sponsoring Leeds United until the end of the 2007–08 season.

In the 2010s, Admiral continues to sponsor a number of football teams around the world.[4][11]

In 2011, Admiral Sportswear Limited acquired the rights of the Admiral trademark for most of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, with the intention of revitalizing the heritage sports brand.[1][12][13]

In 2016, Wimbledon won promotion to EFL League One[14] wearing Admiral. This is the highest position the club has held in the football league. In the UK Sainsbury's holds the licence to retail Admiral Gold ranges. In Italy Cisalfa Sport have the exclusive licence to retail Admiral Performance and Essentials.

As part of the regeneration project Admiral started to work and collaborate with different design partners.[15] The first of these was with Represent,[16] shown at the 2019 Milan Fashion Week[17]

In September 2020, the "Admiral Sporting Goods Co." line was launched. The line, that took inspiration from pre-1966 sportswear, was composed of t-shirts, hoodies, and accessories.[18] the projects first collaboration was with Acme Whistles the inventors of the first every pea whistle.

Also that year, the company together with Wellgosh made a special common release.[19][20]

Sponsorships


Admiral currently provides kit uniforms for the following teams:

Association football

National teams
Club teams

Cricket

Former sponsorships


National teams

Club teams

Cycling

Cricket

F1

Kabaddi

References


  1. Iconic Admiral sports brand to be revived by investors by Adam Jupp on The Manchester Evening News, 14 Mar 2011
  2. History on Admiral website
  3. Publicidad retro: el estilo Admiral Por Eugenio Palopoli on Arte y Sport, 24 Jul 2012
  4. Admiral Sportswear to launch retro leisure range on The Manchester Evening News, 14 Feb 2012
  5. 161385360554578 (2 July 2020). "One man's vision saw a mega money boom and almost changed Liverpool's identity". talkSPORT. Retrieved 19 May 2021.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  6. "Bert Patrick obituary". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  7. Meet the man who created the replica football shirt market by Theo Merz on The Telegraph, 17 June 2014
  8. Admiral 1980-83 England home
  9. England's home uniform 1980-83 on England Football Online
  10. England national team 1980-83 on Historical Football Kits
  11. "Why Admiral's 'flashy' England strip now commands respect". BBC News. 12 May 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  12. "Revitalizing Admiral - The Story So Far" Archived 18 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine. The official Admiral Sportswear website. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  13. Jupp, Adam (14 March 2011). "Iconic Admiral sports brand to be revived by investors". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  14. How AFC Wimbledon won promotion on BBC, 30 May 2016
  15. "Admiral sportswear brand relaunches in the UK". Retro to Go. 8 July 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  16. Represent
  17. Represent Links up with Admiral for a Vintage Styled Football Capsule by Sam Cole on Complex UK, Nov 15, 2018
  18. Introducing... Admiral Sporting Goods by Mark Smith on Proper, 6 Sep 2020
  19. Jones, Becky; Pegden, Tom (11 January 2021). "Family-run Leicester clothes store bought by JD Sports". LeicestershireLive. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  20. Jones, Becky (17 September 2020). "New sportswear range by Wellgosh and Admiral celebrates city". LeicestershireLive. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
  21. Gremio SD uniforms on Admiral website (21 Oct 2020)
  22. Admiral partners with AC Miracle Hill, 21 Dec 2018
  23. Admiral on Mikwaukee Torrent, 25 Jan 2018
  24. New sections launched on USA Cricket, 20 Jun 2018
  25. The Resurrection of Khorramshahr (1357)