Pandemic hits demand for English club kits, says online platform

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Arsenal fans watch the FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea - Boxpark Wembley, London, Britain - August 1, 2020 Arsenal fans react as they watch the match Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

LONDON (Reuters) - Fans barred from English football grounds during the COVID-19 pandemic has had a knock-on effect on replica kit sales, according to figures from an online shopping platform.

The sight of English supporters squeezed into shiny replica shirts, either in stadiums, pubs or on holiday abroad, has become a feature of the Premier League era.

But with fans watching matches at home on TV, demand for kits has slumped to a five-year low with a 63% drop in online searches compared to 2019, data from show.

UK fans spent an estimated 23.9 million pounds ($30.85 million) on Premier League kits alone last season, but top-flight clubs could now be facing a 15 million pounds drop in revenue from the sale of replica kits, the website said.

"It's no secret that big money signings, pre-season tours and fans at games have a huge impact on August shirt sales for English clubs," Stuart McClure, co-founder of which tracks sales from 1,000 online retailers, added.

"Without the last two factors in 2020, demand across the board for English football kits has dropped by 63% year-on-year.

"Football teams must adapt to the new normal, and reach out to supporters through online channels, to keep fans invested in their clubs and merchandise."

According to Arsenal's new kit is the most popular so far this season followed by Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City.

($1 = 0.7747 pounds)

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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