What is a Third Kit in Football? | Avec Sport

What are third kits and does my football team need one?

With premier league football teams having longstanding traditions and rules about the colour schemes used in their team kits, it may seem strange when third kits that do not use these colours are announced. For example, Manchester City is known for their famous light blue strip but has previously opted for third kits that are orange and purple, and such drastic colour changes can leave many wondering when third kits would be used and why. 

If you’re one of those confused as to why third kits are announced by teams in each season but rarely used, our blog has you covered. Keep reading to find out if these strips are an essential piece of kit, alongside the rules that surround their use. 

What is a third kit in football? 

Every professional team will announce three different kits at the start of any football season. One of these kits will be their home kit, one will be the away kit, and one will be the third kit. Before the announcement, these kits have to be approved by a governing body and they are usually designed by the kit partner. 

The namesakes of the home and away kits give a clear indication of their uses, with pro footballers wearing their home kit when playing matches in their own stadium and away kits when out on the road. As such, the third kit may be used much less frequently to avoid kit clashes, but it is still essential for football teams to own one.

When do teams wear their third kit?

Football teams wear their third kit in the event of a kit clash. This is when the two opposing teams are wearing colours that are too similar which makes it hard to distinguish one team from another. The following kit rules are set out by the FA: 

  • 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.

Additionally, the FA handbook also sets out rules for priority as to who gets to wear their home kit. The rules are as follows: 

  • M.22.1. 1st priority: the outfield players of the home club who shall wear their home strip;
  • M.22.2. 2nd priority: the outfield players of the visiting club;
  • M.22.3. 3rd priority: the home club goalkeeper;
  • M.22.4. 4th priority: the visiting club goalkeeper.

These rules can sometimes be complicated as there are no clear indications as to what counts as a kit clash, this can result in some inconsistencies. For example, you may notice that some teams wear their third kits even when their home or away kits don’t appear to clash with the opposing team. This may be because it is not the shirt that is the problem, but the socks and shorts may have a too similar colour scheme which can make it difficult for linesmen and referees to asses the gameplay. 

Therefore, the third kit should be designed to eliminate any possibility of a kit clash and players should be prepared to wear it if they do not have priority to wear their home kit. Teams can decide themselves which kit they want to wear before a match, but in some cases, the governing bodies may have to step in to avoid a clash. 

Of course, those who are not in the professional leagues may not have such strict rules but in any case, it is always best for a team to have a third kit available to them to be prepared for any eventuality. Additionally, professional clubs may also use the third kit as an additional revenue stream as selling official replicas of the design can help to bring in extra money. 

Is a third kit necessary for a grassroots team?

Designing a new third kit every season can quickly add up in cost, and whilst this isn’t likely to be an issue for world-class clubs, it’s not something that all grassroots teams will be able to afford. The good news is that because the event of a kit clash is rare, the need for a third kit can often be avoided by smaller clubs. 

What should my club do if we don’t have a third kit?

If you are worried about a kit clash but don’t want the expense of buying a third strip, an older kit from a previous season can work just as well. As long as the colours are distinguishable from your current home and away kit. 

Alternatively, for a cheaper option or if you don’t have an old kit available, you could choose to invest in some coloured football socks to keep on hand. Many teams will typically choose white or black socks as these are colours that can easily match their existing kit. By opting for some varied colour options, you may be able to avoid any clashes during games by simply changing the colour of your team’s socks.

Creating a third kit

If you feel that your team would benefit from having a third kit, you can still incorporate this into your budget. Grassroots teams do not need to submit their strips to a governing body and therefore don’t need to replace the third kit for every season. You can design a suitable third kit for your team which can be kept for the rare occasion that it will need to be used, this can help to encourage team identity and give a more professional look.

You’ll need to ensure that the colours are clearly distinguishable from your home and away kit, and it’s best to include socks and shorts in this kit alongside the jersey to help avoid any possibility of a kit clash with your opposing team. 

Build your team ID with Avec Sport

Here at Avec Sport, we make it easy for teams of all levels to create a functional and impactful kit. With Team Avec+ you can bulk-order custom kits for your club that reflect the brand values and identity of your team. Alternatively, for smaller orders, we also supply a range of men’s teamwear, women’s teamwear, and junior kits in an impressive array of colours and styles to ensure that your club can perform at their best and feel comfortable in their home, away, or third kit.