For years the independent sports shops we grew up with have sadly lost huge revenues by not selling their very own local customers any football boots. With news of change emerging we discuss Q&A on UK football boot distribution, with football expert Scott Michaels, who is also brand owner of the recently rebooted and iconic football boot label, Stylo Matchmakers.
How have football boot sales dried up for independent sports retailers?
Forced out of the market on price and restricted availability, the independents were told by brands that they were never going to be able to compete with today’s biggest football boot retailers, who have since monopolised the market after receiving special treatment and cushy deals from the planets most manufactured and heavily marketed corporate brands which originate from outside the UK. Brands of which have either purchased or destroyed nearly all of the football boot manufacturing competition.
Has this changed the way we buy boots?
This has no doubt changed the way we as consumers have been conditioned to buy football boots, yes. Today most will shop in one of two ways for boots, online for ease or direct at one of the leading mass market retailing sports shops. We feel we have a choice, but it’s actually limited.
Scared that they couldn’t compete with these giant supermarkets filled with football boots, who by the way collectively bought more boots than they could sell, a majority of independent retailers sadly gave up on this sector of their business and rolled over to the delight of the cash hungry market leaders who were over stocking for the newer channels.
Until now! Those forgotten about, independent retailers have changed the state of play and begin fighting back to take back the piece of the pie which was once theirs.
How can independent retailers compete all of a sudden? What’s changed?
By standing up to the brands who took everything to do with football boots away from them, over 500 UK Independent retailers have began to form an influence over their local and niche markets.
Collectively they are now managing their very own football boot market, assisted by the anti-corporate British boot label which dates back as the Sixties and Seventies as the most iconic British football boot label, this is where Stylo Matchmakers fits in.
How does Stylo Matchmakers compete with the big football boot brands?
To understand this, you have to first understand that Stylo Matchmakers purposefully don’t compete with big name brands, that’s the whole point. Unlike their rivals, Stylo Matchmakers are backers of the Against Modern Football campaign and are fighting on the front line against the issues brought to light by the modern day corporate world.
The Stylo Matchmakers brand is about doing everything the complete opposite to what big football boot brands do. This football brand is for mavericks, it’s for the people who don’t want what is force fed to them by the media, the TV and the sponsored superstars. This brand is only for leaders, not followers.
So the Stylo Matchmakers label is more exclusive and transparent in way’s other global brands simply can’t compete with.
Who wears them?
With Stylo Matchmakers, it’s more a question of “who wore them”, not “who wears them”. Brazillian legend Pele, Northern Ireland’s George Best and England’s own Kevin Keegan are amongst the most well known players to score goals in Stylo Matchmakers. As the biggest brand in Seventies English football, hundreds of the most memorable footballing legends performed their duties in the Stylo Matchmakers brand.
Unlike the big brand competition, Stylo Matchmakers refuses to bribe any of the world’s current best players at the top of the pyramid to wear their boots as they see this as outdated, immoral tactics and as dirty money, so that’s the main reason you’re probably not going to see as many Stylo Matchmakers as often in professional matches on TV anytime soon.
Despite the power of dirty money, there is a pool of professional players who choose Stylo Matchmakers over the more commonly worn rivals as the Stylo Matchmakers history, purpose and ideology resonates.
Recent players include Premier League Winner Christian Fuchs, former Manchester United Striker Jonathan Greening, Northern Ireland international Kyle Lafferty, QPR striker Macauley Bonne, PNE midfielder Paul Gallagher and former Nigerian international Nwankwo Kanu.
Kids still only want what the superstars wear though, right?
Yes kids generally want anything which is consistently advertised towards them, but Stylo Matchmakers refuse to target kids. Unapologetically they are strategically marketed to men, old enough to make calculated decisions and not for boys and girls.
As we continue into a new decade big brands will continue to financially control the world’s top performing players with huge sums to especially influence the younger/ vulnerable markets. Stylo Matchmakers believe this is immoral and unhealthy as less fortunate children easily become victims of the big brand aggressive multi-billion pound marketing strategy, so they now only make boots in adult sizes.
Do Stylo Matchmakers cost less if professionals don’t get sponsored?
Whilst big brands continue to give special treatment and pay packets to the world’s best performing professionals, their football boot consumer price tags are massively increasing every year. Stylo football boots on the other hand are professional quality and a lot harder to come by. As a smaller company with rarer and more exclusive models, Stylo Matchmakers are very reasonable and don’t expect you to pay the same as rival brands for marketing.
Is there a difference in quality?
Offering the same level of boot material quality is one of the major gaps in the market for Stylo Matchmakers. Whilst their designs are unique and have a true heritage in the minds of adult men, like the corporate brands their boots are manufactured using the best of modern day technology. Stylo Matchmakers boots are made using the same machinery as the boots that are marketed to make you play better.
Do they compete with big brand performance?
Larger brands continue to advertise that their boots are enhanced. They claim to make you perform much better, justifying it with billion pound billboard advertising and paid sponsorships. It’s an easy claim to say that their special boots make you play like the professionals, when they clearly pay for that privilege, or rather you pay for it when you pay £300 for a new model.
This is the major con for the millions of aspiring professional footballers out there conscious of football fashion, who have been made to believe that they have to wear the same brand as the sponsored pro’s if they’re going to be taken seriously.
My advice to those players is let your football do the talking, whether you’re wearing kids boots or boots made purposefully for adults.
So what does the reboot of Stylo Matchmakers mean for the retail market?
It means that more and more people are seeing through the values big brands claim to offer. Consumers realise they actually have a choice if they decide not to behave like programmed robots and they don’t have to be force fed anymore.
Stylo Matchmakers is not only a new opportunity for football boot providers, but a chance for footballers to support their local economy, buying instead from the local community sports shop, rather than lining the pockets of the greedy corporates.