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How has the Football Shirt Market Changed

In recent years, the football shirt market has changed drastically. From being a simple hobby (and a big reason for starting this site) to its own enterprise for fledgling businesses worldwide.

The Football Shirt Market Over the Years

The Premier League began in 1992 with teams selling just a replica version of their shirt and for a very reasonable price. Kits during the 90s were often worn for two seasons in a row before the kit was then changed, however in the modern era as we all know, there are now usually three shirts per season (Home, Away and Third) for each team.

But not only do football shirts have three variations of colours/patterns, they also have two different ways that the shirts fit and feel. Honestly, the football shirt market is FLOODED.

Do football shirts cost more now?

In 1992, football fans used to purchase the replica shirts from a club catalogue or a club shop, but nowadays there are thousands of ways to purchase shirts.

But with how accessible football shirts are in the modern age, you can often find the best price very easily, which let’s be completely honest, is never much cheaper in this market.

But let’s stay on track here, so during the 1992 season the most expensive shirts in the football league were priced at £29.99 and were sold by the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool. Aston Villa sold their shirts even marginally cheaper than that, at just £28.79 during the 1992/93 season.

Let’s compare these valuations to the prices in which us football fans are paying today, with Manchester United fans paying an extortionate £80 for a home, away or third shirt alone. This is a damning indictment on just how much the football shirt market has increased, when in 1992 you could buy a full Manchester United home kit for £50.

However, if you wish to purchase the authentic version as opposed to the replica version you would be looking at paying £100, which is quite frankly absurd. So within the space of 32 years, a Manchester United football shirt has tripled in price. Wow. 

What are football shirts so expensive?

Well, if you take the prices of football shirts for face value then it looks like our football clubs and the shirt manufacturers are quite frankly robbing us blind, but let’s take a deeper dive into what makes the shirts cost so much, and why. 

Increasing Demand

With football being by far the most played and watched sport in the world, it is of course logical to say that there will always be a market for football shirts globally.

Therefore, football shirts will be ever increasing in price because manufacturers and clubs are able to charge a large chunk of change because simply put, people will just pay it. 

Events like the Euros and the World Cup have had massive impacts on the retro football shirt market in recent years, with there being a huge obsession with getting a retro national team jersey.

When thinking of the retro national jersey market there are a few that instantly spring to mind, Paul Gascoigne’s Euro 96’ shirt, Euro 88’  Netherlands home shirt and Nigeria’s 1996 Olympics shirt worn by the ‘Super Eagles’.

Shirt Printing Costs

Printing and production costs have become a lot more expensive for manufacturers since the 90’s, especially with the sheer volume that they have to send out in the modern era.

When purchasing a Liverpool shirt for example, you will be paying £74.95 for a replica shirt without any printing, then you have multiple options to choose from to customise the shirt how you want it. They have six font options which include: Premier League; LFC Name and Number; UEFA Europa League; Barclays WSL; Pride and the Carabao Cup font too.

All of these options will then cost an extra £16 for a name and number, taking the total of the shirt to already £90.95 and then you have the extra add ons such as the competition patches which cost between £5-7 additionally.

Therefore, you’re looking at spending almost £100 on a shirt, that is not even the authentic variant. 

A majority of clubs used to charge £1 per letter and number you would have on the shirt, which in the case of Liverpool fans, when put into context, is rather fortunate as Alexander-Arnold 66 would bankrupt someone like myself. But equally, paying £15 for a printing on the back of a shirt for the name and number for Wataru Endo and the number 3 is ridiculous. 

Authentic Versions

Authentic versions are designed to enable performance when wearing the shirt, hence why they are made for the players. Now I don’t know about a majority of you guys, but I’m certainly not sitting here as a 21-year-old man thinking “I’ve got a chance to get called up by Jürgen Klopp this season”.

Therefore the £100 price point seems a little steep to me, and the replica shirt is solely designed for comfort so that softens the blow slightly by saving £25. But should you still have that dream of playing under the floodlights for your team, by all means go ahead.


We may as well save the main reason until last, and perhaps the most obvious one at that, inflation. 

Now we all wish football shirts would still be £30 but let’s be honest, £30 in 1992 wasn’t exactly the bargain that it sounds like in 2024. The average inflation rate from 1992 to 2024 is 3.02% which means that £29.99 in 1992 would be the equivalent of £77.78 in 2024, which for the number heads amongst you is a 159.36% price increase. 

So, in the grand scheme of things, in 1992 football shirts really weren’t an absolute steal and something which we would consider to be an unbelievable deal. In fact, in 1992 people would be paying more for a replica shirt, with worse quality in the shirt itself than the modern-day consumer does. All in all, modern football shirts are far more reasonable than we would like to admit, despite the initial shock when hearing the prices that football fans and collectors would be charged in the 90’s.

When to get the cheapest shirts

Rule number one is to NEVER purchase a shirt when it is first released, which is pretty self explanatory if we’re being honest (it will be at its highest price point). But half of the task of not purchasing the shirts straight away is, ignoring the emails that you get sent from either your favourite club(s) and not being lured in by adverts on social media platforms.

As a collector myself, I have to be extremely careful not to get too excited by a new shirt release and then purchase one ASAP. 

Secondly, always wait until after Christmas to buy a shirt because almost every club will hold a Boxing Day or New Year sale on the club website or in the club shop. Typically, you can save anywhere from 15-25% on the shirts themselves which allows you to spread that Christmas money even further. 

However, personally I prefer waiting until the season is finished. This is by no means the most exciting way to buy a shirt, but in my experience and most collectors experiences, it is by far the best way to buy shirts. Usually, most clubs hold sales between 50-60% off their shirts which allows you to pick up two shirts for the price of one, most of the time. 

In my personal experience, I managed to buy all three authentic Liverpool shirts during the 22-23 season during the summer for £120.

When I could’ve just had one authentic shirt with a name and number for that price just months before. So this is definitely the best time for all you parents who are looking to buy shirts for your children, or even you adults like me who love collecting shirts to get some deals and buy the shirts you’ve waited so long to buy. 


Apart from retro kits and extremely desirable ones, football shirts are almost exactly where they used to be priced, despite when initially hearing the figures, nearly spitting my tea out in shock.

It does feel like an awful lot of money to be splurging on a shirt, but unfortunately that’s the way forward. However, (as discussed above) there are many ways to find cheaper shirts so let me give you some advice in order to get some deals on the shirts you’ve been wanting since their release. 

Hopefully you all enjoyed reading, and you can start your shirt collection with a few tips and tricks from us here at Hobby FC!