Carling first to remove brand from soccer kits

Glasgow’s famous rival football clubs, Rangers and Celtic, are being forced to offer fans an alternative range of replica kits for children without the name and logo of their main sponsor, Carling lager.

The move follows changes to the drinks industry’s code of practice, which took effect on March 1. The code of practice says that sporting clubs with alcohol brands as kit sponsors must offer unbranded versions of their outfits for children.

Lesley Allman, director of communications at Coors, which owns Carling, says that offering “alcohol-free” child-sized replica shirts “is a UK beer and football industry first”, and fits in with Coors’ active involvement in programmes to promote sensible drinking. Carling signed a three-year, £12m joint sponsorship for the two clubs earlier this year (MW November 28, 2002).

However, questions remain over how easy it will be for consumers to purchase the unbranded alternative shirts. While Allman says that “our understanding is that the shirts will be readily available on request”, a spokeswoman for Celtic says that the kit “will be available, but may not be on display” and that it may not be promoted. Rangers said in a statement that it would be “releasing a limited number of unbranded replica jerseys for children”.

Jack Law, chief executive of Scottish alcohol charity Alcohol Focus Scotland, wants to see alcohol branding banned from children’s sports kits altogether, because otherwise “kids will choose the shirt with the logo on, because that is what their heroes are wearing”.

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