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Villarreal will announce new kit supplier soon

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The XTEP deal was for five years starting in the summer of 2011, and it is not being renewed. Probably we'll go with a Spanish company.

All indications are those "X"s will disappear from our kit next season, as we'll have a new supplier
All indications are those "X"s will disappear from our kit next season, as we'll have a new supplier
Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Villarreal will announce their new kit this summer, which is usually a bit of a yawner since we know they will play in yellow and they hardly ever wear their away kit (though with Las Palmas staying up, it will get worn at least once).

For those of you who don't know, our existing kit deal was signed in 2011 with great fanfare, as we had just qualified for the Champions League and were looking to make inroads into the Chinese market.  In fact, before the 2011-12 season started, the Submarine went on a trip to Hong Kong and China, which wasn't exactly the sort of training for the CL we had in mind.

Various commercials were filmed, some football was played (though not much) and Xtep evidently hoped to use the Villarreal connection to market their gear to more clubs in Europe, while at the same time Villarreal hoped to break into the Chinese market with thousands of followers of the club on social media, all eager to purchase the club's merchandise.

Forward to 2016, and it has not worked out that way at all.  Admittedly Villarreal's relegation in 2012 didn't help, but the reality is Xtep's products didn't lead to any more orders from European clubs--the shirts are quite nice with the various weave producing an attractive pattern, but the ancillary polo shirts, training gear, etc. haven't been that well received.

And Villarreal also found the Chinese market was tougher to crack than they had anticipated.  It's all well and good to pick up hundreds of thousands of Sina Weibo followers, but that doesn't really bring anything significant to the club.  And since the Chinese market is driven by status (having spent a few days earlier this year in Paris, I can testify firsthand to that!), people there in the market for football shirts are going to buy the ones of the 'status' clubs--Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United.   Not Villarreal.

So, while it may not have been evident to casual observers, the Villarreal--China relationship has been steadily deemphasized over the last 18 months.  There was (briefly) a Chinese home page on the official site--that's now gone.  The last tour we took under Xtep's auspices was to Australia--not China or Hong Kong.  No academy visit from Chinese youth players in some time.  And mention of all the Chinese followers on social media has pretty much gone too.

Expectations are the new kit supplier will be a Spanish company.  One possibility is Joma, a company founded in 1965 that currently supplies kit to Granada and Espanyol, and to Getafe as well.  They have a big worldwide presence, though it has to be said they don't have any other obvious Champions League teams in their portfolio (they have done kit for Valencia and Sevilla in the past, it should be noted).

The other possibility would be Kelme, who did Villarreal kits in the 1990s. They're based in Elche, so would be relatively local, but seem to concentrate more on casual footwear and such these days.  They only supply kit in Spain to Rayo (so credit to them for doing that black with the rainbow), and Elche.

Personally I'd love to see us with Puma again just because I loved those pumas along the shoulders....but I don't expect that to happen.

Whatever company supplies us, expect all-yellow strip again.  Especially with the whole Liverpool-Yellow Submarine thing, this is not the time to start wearing blue shorts again (even though the club song does say our colors are blue and yellow).

As for the shirt sponsor, I assume Pamesa will continue to do that.  I don't recall how long a deal that was for.  Yes, it is transferring money from one of Sr. Roig's pockets to another in some ways, and I am sure we would like to see a bigger money deal, but that's the reality of Barca and Real Madrid dominating the market in Spain.  At least we HAVE a sponsor.