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SBD Global/April 3, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

British PM Backs 'Rethink' Of Nike's $150 Price Tag For England's Replica World Cup Kit

The $150 price tag of England's replica World Cup kit has caused controversy.
British PM David Cameron has backed demands for a “rethink” of the new £90 ($150) England football shirt "amid growing criticism of the manufacturer’s price tag," according to Isaac Leigh of the LONDON TIMES. Cameron’s spokesperson said that Cameron agreed with Sports Minister Helen Grant, who said that the price being asked for the Nike "match shirt" -- identical to the ones that will be worn by players in this summer’s World Cup in Brazil -- was “not right.” An adult "stadium" England shirt is priced at £60 ($100), while shirts for children aged between 8 and 15 cost £42 ($70) with mini-kits priced at £40 ($67). Writing on Twitter Wednesday, Grant said, “On £90 England #football shirts for fans, it’s not right. Loyal supporters are the bedrock of our national game - pricing needs a rethink” (LONDON TIMES, 4/2). The PA reported Cameron's spokesperson said, "He does agree with Helen Grant. I'm sure all fans would welcome a rethink." The spokesperson said it was "clearly not" for the government to set the price of football shirts. The spokesperson added, "It is a matter for the manufacturers and the FA, but does he agree with Helen Grant that £90 is a great deal of money for a replica shirt? Absolutely. Would a rethink by the manufacturer be welcomed by all fans? I'm sure that would be the case." Shadow Sports Minister Clive Efford said the price of the shirts was "disappointing" while former England midfielder Joey Barton called it "appalling." The FA said that "it avoids any involvement with kit manufacturers about pricing" (PA, 4/2). REUTERS' Keith Weir noted Nike points out that "the top price applies only to a limited edition shirt which is an exact copy in terms of material, fit and finish of what the England players will wear in Brazil." A more basic replica shirt intended to make up the vast majority of sales "has a recommended retail price" of £60. British sports retailer Sports Direct "is offering the basic version online for a discounted price" of £47.99 ($79), "sacrificing part of its profit margin in an attempt to boost sales." Although attention in Britain is focused on Nike, adidas and Puma "are charging fans similar prices for national team shirts they are supplying at the World Cup" (REUTERS, 4/2).

IS IT CAMERON'S POSITION TO COMMENT? In London, James Kirkup opined "Where to start with this? How best to explain just how lamentably stupid, cravenly populist and intellectually vacuous this is?" He continued, "Let’s start with markets. Markets are great. They allow people who want to sell stuff and people who want to buy stuff to agree on a price for that stuff. People selling stuff generally think quite carefully about how much to ask for it, seeking the price that will allow them to sell that stuff at the greatest profit. Sorry if that explanation seems a bit simple or even patronising, but it appears to be necessary, because we live in a country where even our Oxford-educated Prime Minister doesn’t seem to understand it." Kirkup added, "Nike is a profit-making company, selling a commercial product in a free market." It "has decided to sell these particular products for £90." How many shirts it sells -- and whether it sells any at all -- "will be decided by the other participants in that market: consumers." Cameron is "using the might and majesty of his office to tell a profit-making company to rethink its pricing policy." It is an "embarrassingly incoherent position for a politician who claims to believe in free markets" (TELEGRAPH, 4/2).
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