With global fan bases running into the millions, replica shirts provide a lucrative revenue line for the major football clubs. It isn’t the club that benefits – the manufacturer sees a good percentage of the revenue and the shirt sponsor gets more and more exposure.
The biggest clubs in the world will sell millions of shirts every year – according to Statista, Manchester United sold 3.25m in 2018 alone, a number that will increase year on year despite the price of replica shirts continuing to rise. And that is at the heart of the issue of counterfeit football shirts. The higher the price for the real deal, the greater the demand for the fake. It doesn’t take a Professor of Economics to work that one out – the theory of substitute goods has already defined that. But there is a catch 22 situation whereby the manufacturing costs of the shirts continues to rise because of the additional features that are included to prevent counterfeiting, thus driving the demand for the fake items up as less and less people can afford the real deal.
The counter argument is for another day. Instead, the warning is there that cheap does not mean authentic. Naturally, as the seasons come to an end, clubs will look at discounting their current stock to make way for the new, shiny designs for the following season, but it should always set an alarm bell ringing if you see adverts, especially on Social Media for current replica shirts at really low prices, especially if you are seeing the same ad various times with different websites selling them, as in the above examples.
Fraudsters know how to push the right buttons. They know that children for instance will want the latest shirt of their favourite team and they also know the financial pressure on us all at this time of the year. So the cost of advertising on Social Media is a mere drop in the ocean compared to the potential return on investment in selling shirts, which it is highly likely will never arrive.
If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.