Whether you’re playing grassroots football or are competing in the premier league, having an away kit to wear when playing away matches is a necessity. While this extra piece of football player equipment may not feel like the most important purchase for a club, the price of not having a suitable kit to wear when playing away could be higher.
If you aren’t sure why having a dedicated away kit for your players is important, or even if you’re just curious to find out why away kits exist in the first place, let us take you through it. In this blog, we’ll be explaining everything from what a kit clash is in football to what rules the FA have put in place to regulate football team colours. We’ll even give you some tips on designing the best away kit for your squad so that you can save money and avoid needing a third kit for your club.
What is a kit clash?
A kit clash in football occurs when the colours of the home and visiting kits are too similar. Usually, football kit clashes will happen when the home team's home colours are the same or similar to the visiting team’s away colours, but the term can technically be applied to any colour clashing between outfield players, goalkeepers and even match officials.
These kit clashes are anything but frivolous or fashion based, as they can have a direct affect on the game. Confusing for the players who need to quickly pass the ball to their teammates, confusing for fans trying to follow the game from the sidelines and confusing for linesmen and referees trying to make instant judgment calls; the disruption caused by kit clashes can change the entire outcome of the match. As such, kit colour clashes are taken very seriously by officials and, if a kit clash can’t be solved by the visiting team’s away kit, and no alternative kit can be found, the referee may not let the match be played.
Do kit clashes really matter?
If you haven’t been on the pitch, making fast decisions as a player, you may be wondering if clashing kits really matter. Designing and purchasing an away kit can constitute a considerable investment into a club, especially in 11-a-side teams where there are more players to outfit with suitable football player equipment, so knowing that it’s worthwhile is a fair concern.
Thanks to a recent study performed by the University of York, we can finally put some statistics behind the threat of colour clashing. This study found that;
Where any colour clash occurred, either by matching coloured shorts or jerseys across teams, players took twice as long to identify their teammates on the pitch
Where colours were crossed between teams, for example where a team in blue shorts and a white jersey played a team in white shorts and a blue jersey, a player’s ability to discriminate teammate from opponent was slowed. This detriment was also extended to match officials, increasing the risk of incorrect refereeing decisions
Where teams wore colour clashing shorts, there was significant confusion and a slower response time compared to matches played with no colour clashing shorts.
From these results, we can conclude that, not only should you be kitting your squad out with a suitable away kit for the formality of obeying the rules on colour clashing kits set down by the FA, but also because it could be detrimental to the success of your players in a match to do otherwise.
What are the official rules on away kits?
In such a fast paced game that relies heavily on the judgement and quick decision making skills of players, linesmen and referees, it's no surprise that the FA has outlined specific rules surrounding the colours of football players’ kits and officials’ uniforms. These rules are designed to limit the confusion caused by opposing players wearing the same or similar colours, allowing everyone from officials to fans to the players themselves to judge, watch and play without disruption.
These rules can be found under Law 4 of the FA’s official football rules and regulations, all of which detail specifically what players can and cannot wear in a football match. The rules that control colour clashing football kits specifically are as follows:
“The two teams must wear colours that distinguish them from each other and the match officials
Each goalkeeper must wear colours that are distinguishable from the other players and the match officials
If the two goalkeepers’ shirts are the same colour and neither has another shirt, the referee allows the match to be played.”
These rules are enforced in an order of priority, with the home team’s players listed first. This means that the home team should always be wearing their first kit (their home colours). After this, the visiting team are expected to wear a kit which doesn’t clash in colour with the opposing team’s home colours (usually their away kit). Lastly, the home team’s goalkeeper and visiting team’s goalkeeper then pick their jerseys (in that order), careful not to clash with any other player or official in the match.
Additional football player equipment rules
These strict colour clashing rules also cover colour rules within a single team’s kit, with the FA specifying that additional layers, such as undershirts, undershorts and tights must match the colour of their associated item of clothing. The rules outlined by the FA on this are as follows:
“Undershirts must be a single colour which is the same colour as the main colour of the shirt sleeve, or a pattern/colours which exactly replicate(s) the shirt sleeve
Undershorts/tights must be the same colour as the main colour of the shorts or the lowest part of the shorts – players of the same team must wear the same colour.”
Because of these additional football player equipment rules, when you’re designing your away kit, make sure you also order base layers in matching colours to bring along to your matches.
Can you wear your home kit away?
Provided the visiting team’s home kit doesn’t clash with the home colours of the home team, then yes, you may wear your home kit when playing an away match. The only reason this would be unacceptable is if the visiting team’s home kit was in violation of any of the FA’s official football kit colour rules, such as if the shorts and socks were the same or a similar colour as the home team’s kit.
Why do football teams need a third kit?
Also sometimes called an alternate jersey, or third jersey, a third kit is kept in the rare instance that both the visiting team’s home and away kit clash with the home team’s kit. Due to the rarity of such an occasion, most clubs’ third kit is simply a home or away kit from a previous season that is no longer used as a primary kit.
How to design an away kit
When the time comes to design your team’s away kit, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, your away kit must be a different colour to your home kit, so choose a different colour of jersey, in a different pattern if you prefer, as well as different colours of shorts and socks from the home kit. This means that, should any item clash with the home team’s kit, the visiting team has the ability to swap out certain items (such as socks).
Secondly, if your football team plays in a small league and you’re familiar with the home kits of all of your competitors, it may be worth doing a little research to make sure you don’t repeat any of their colours in your away kit. In bigger leagues that regularly change, this may not be possible, but if you have the information available doing the research now and choosing your away kit accordingly could save you time in the long run.
Lastly, if you’re struggling to find a suitable supplier for your away (or home) kit, take a look through the team kits available at Avec Sport. We offer everything from full team kits to training wear, and have an extensive range of different colours including white, green, claret and navy so, if you’re looking for a specific colour for your team’s away kit, try searching through our shop by colour collection.