Wednesday, February 28, 2007

FA to release range of replica referee kit

The Football Association today unveiled a range of merchandise celebrating the match officials that are part and parcel of the national game. Richard Billingsworth, Head of Marketing for the Premier League, showed off some of the range at the FA headquarters in London’s Soho Square.

"We have a full range of replica kit available," he explained. "Not just the traditional black or yellow shirts but also the highly collectible fuchsia which is held in reserve to ensure that the officials don’t clash with Manchester United’s ever changing away strip."

Other items in the collection are the "Referee Experience", a series of audio CDs featuring verbal abuse from some of the English game’s top stars, such as John Terry and Rio Ferdinand. An international version is also planned with Zinedine Zidane.

"We are also in the process of filming a range of tutorial DVDs focusing on the art of the official," revealed Mr Billingsworth. "They will cover such topics as running backwards, walking to the linesman to pass the blame, pacing out just less than ten yards and collecting the ball at halftime."

Already available, however, is a new range of signed equipment, including flags, whistles as well as the Graham Poll collection of deluxe yellow cards which come in packs of three.
At the expensive end of the new range of merchandise are items such as the Plus10 LED extra time boards which will be part of the new Alex Ferguson range.

Mr Billingsworth said that early interest had been promising from fans and referees alike, but that the FA decided not to produce dry technical manuals. "Familiarity with the rules is not an intrinsic part of the Referee experience." he said. Similarly the planned series ‘Greatest Refereeing moments‘ has been postponed.

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