Retailers score England kit own goal


Sports retailers have been criticised for the huge disparity in prices for replica England football kits ahead of this month's World Cup.

A new report from consumer watchdog Which? found that despite the standard home shirt being available for £22.49 from the Football Association online shop, other retailers were charging almost double.

The same price variances apply to the 1966 World Cup winning-inspired red away kit, which was launched in March 2006, the overseer claims.

Kit manufacturer Umbro does not provide a recommended retail price for any of its England merchandise, but Which? discovered that parents can expect to pay as much for children-sized kits as they can for adult shirts.

Neil Fowler, editor of the magazine, revealed that an XXXL shirt and shorts combination from the FA costs £32, while the equivalent for a boy under ten-years-old is only marginally cheaper at £26, despite the huge difference in material involved and the savings retailers make by not having to charge VAT.

"Retailers are taking advantage of consumers, and parents in particular, by charging almost as much for an England shirt to fit a small child as one that's big enough to fit a 20-stone man," he said.

"While this seems to be common practice, at least it's easier to avoid shops charging over the odds for adult kits by checking prices at several retailers first - we found huge variations when we looked," Mr Fowler added.

The England red away was launched amid controversy earlier this year, with supermarket Asda making the shirt available for sale several days before its official release after securing a shipment of surplus stock from the continent.

Manufacturer Umbro has previously said that it expects the World Cup-effect to further boost its profits for the year 2006/07, having seen them rise 5.4 per cent to £23 million last year despite no major international tournaments being held.

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