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Some fans detest it, but latest team strip is best selling Northern Ireland top of all time

By Allan Preston

Published 01/06/2016

Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty models the new-look shirt
Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty models the new-look shirt

It was panned by the fans, but the Northern Ireland jersey for Euro 2016 has become an unexpected hit.

The shirt - featuring a controversial blue stripe - is the best-selling Northern Ireland top of all time.

More than 30,000 supporters have shelled out £55 for the Adidas-designed jersey, according to the Irish Football Association.

That is despite many fans ridiculing the jersey when the design was first revealed last November.

Among those who've snapped up the new top is Andy Scullion, who swore he would never buy it - until last month.

The 31-year-old from Larne is flying to France for all three of Northern Ireland's games - and will be sporting the new kit.

"I kind of stand by what I said before, I would have preferred something a bit more traditional," he said. "There's too much blue in it, but it is what it is, the numbers speak for themselves.

"I have to admit I did get one in the end about a month ago after saying I wouldn't, I got a wee bit carried away, we're not going to be making many major finals."

He added: "I still don't like it, but I'm going over for the three games and I thought it would be remiss not to get one."

Ian McKinney (35), from Banbridge, has been less forgiving. He insists he will not only shun the kit, but will never wear anything else made by Adidas for the rest of his life.

"I think I said (last year) people will buy it anyway, it's the first major tournament in 30 years," he said.

"But that doesn't mean anything, it doesn't make it the right choice. Whatever they've sold they could have added another 50% or more if it was half decent."

Explaining his near allergic reaction to the kit, Ian added: "Where do you start? It's badly designed, with the blue it's messy looking, it's a poor effort. It doesn't tie in with previous shirts in tournaments we've had."

"I personally will never buy anything by Adidas ever again, for me they just ruined it. They made a mess. They could have produced a special tournament one, there was no effort made to acknowledge the fact that people were annoyed about it."

He concluded: "I personally won't touch it. But I've plenty of others to choose from."

While most sport shops in Belfast stock a variety of Euro 2016 tops - ranging from the Republic of Ireland to Croatia and Slovakia to Sweden - an exclusive sponsorship deal means the official Northern Ireland top can only be bought from JD Sports.

Commenting on the success of the jersey a spokesman from the IFA said: "The recent Northern Ireland home and away kits are the best selling Northern Ireland shirts in history and JD Sports, with an unrivalled network of shops across the country, as well as its cutting-edge digital offering, has made it easier for fans to buy shirts than ever before."

He added that as part of the deal with the sportswear chain, it has a six-figure sponsorship deal with the IFA's elite youth football programme, Club NI.

Belfast Telegraph

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