Nope, turns out it’s not even Italian!
During my daily perusal of Uni Watch (a site which you really, really should read…daily!) I saw that one of the oldest and most historic of England’s clubs- Sheffield Wednesday F.C.- will be wearing kits supplied by Portuguese (not Italian!) manufacturer Lacatoni. We’ll get to the “why” in a minute, for now, let’s deal with the “who?”
Lacatoni was founded in Braga, Frossos, Portugal in 1988 and the company name is a portmanteau of the founders first names. Lacatoni began by outfitting local clubs across a number of sports before finally landing a few higher profile customers in the 1990s and at present is supplies kits to Sporting Braga, Belenenses, Rio Ave and a number of other Portuguese clubs as well as several lusophone football federations (Cape Verde, Mozambique, etc.) and a few non-football clubs (field hockey, handball, etc.)
So, nothing untoward there, just another small brand trying to get its foot in the door in one of the biggest kit markets in the world. Wednesday aren’t Chelsea or Real Madrid, but they did finish 4th in the Championship last year (Huddersfield knocked them out of the promotion playoffs on penalties!) and could well get promoted to the Premiership in the coming years. So, a pretty good “get” for a little company like Lacatoni.
So why has Sheffield Wednesday decided to turn its back on the “regular” players in on the kit scene to go with a supplier with almost no footprint outside of Portugal? This is where things get a little…suspect. It turns out that the “ca” in “La-ca-toni” is none other than Sheffield Wednesday’s manager Carlos Carvalhal. Even if Carvalhal doesn’t see a pound out of this deal directly (he is a 1/3 owner of the company) or indirectly (the company growing in size/sales as a result of being “put in the shop window” at Hillsborough), it just doesn’t look good.
The club may have realized that the “optics” on this deal are not very good because the only reason it is known that Lacatoni will be supplying the kits is that players have been photographed coming and going from training in gear made by the company and featuring the the club crest. The club hasn’t officially announced the deal to the public, which is odd given that the season kicks off in about four weeks and you’d think they’d want to get the replica kit “cash machine” up and running as soon as possible?
I’ll be keeping an eye on this situation as I can’t imagine that this is the last we’re going the hear about it.