Sheffield news Behind the scenes at Errea's Parma base and how Sheffield United's kit is made PremierLeague-News.Com
PremierLeague-News.Com - The Blades will be wearing the Italian manufacturer's clothing from next season
PremierLeague-News.Com - Breaking Sport Transfer News ! "This has been a year in the making and a deal we are really proud of. A lot of effort by a lot of people has gone into this," Emir Samanci, head of commercial and marketing for United World, tells me as we wander round the centre of Parma's cultural quarter. It's a city known for its Romanesque buildings, beautiful Cattedrale and it's famous Parma ham and Parmesan cheese. The people of Parma are understandably proud of its local produce and landmarks, and it was easy to see why. It's here where Errea Sport is based. Sheffield United will be wearing the kit, training wear and leisurewear of the Italian family firm from next season after entering into a partnership as part of a wider collaboration with United World and its member clubs. READ MORE: Inside Sheffield United's Errea deal: Financial bonus, kit design and what supporters can expect "The fact that they are based in Europe and their factory is in Europe was important to us," United World CEO Abdullah Alghamdi explained. Yorkshire Live was part of a small delegation from Sheffield United invited to the manufacturer's headquarters to get a behind-the-scenes insight. Roberto Gandolfi, vice president of Errea Sport and whose father set up the company in 1988, feels this is a milestone moment for his firm. He said: "It's a very important moment for us to be able to sign this agreement. "We have put a lot of effort into creating something special and really unique for the United World clubs and it's a milestone for us. This is totally bespoke for each and it's what makes us different. Clubs can have bespoke kits but not all bespoke wear. Everything is made in our factory in Europe." We are then taken on a tour of the base to see for ourselves how a kit is designed. A special commemorative shirt is being produced for us to see. One of the benefits that United have not had with previous deals is the complete control over the design. United's kits have been designed with input from CEO Stephen Bettis and the marketing, retail and commercial teams. The club has taken inspiration from previous successful kits and each team had been assigned their own individual designer from the start, who we are introduced to in the design office - the obvious starting point of the production. As we are walked through the process, one thing that is clear is the level of personal attention given. There is a pair of hands involved in every stage, from the design offices to the tailors and embroiderers. The entire production chain is managed at these headquarters in San Polo di Torrile and Fabrizio Taddei, who looks after Errea’s relationships with its professional clubs in the UK, says its something they are particularly proud of. "We are really proud of this fact. The care and attention, there is a human at every stage of this process and we believe this is not something you see elsewhere. Every step of the way your kit is handled by a skilled person. Not robots, people." An example of just how much flexibility Sheffield United have with this deal is outlined when we reach the next department, where the design has been printed out and is now being cut for the material, which United have chosen themselves. Inside the Errea fabric warehouse. United have chosen the material for their kits themselves All fabrics are certified to the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 and an in-house technical laboratory performs the tests on the yarns before they reach the fabric warehouse. Fabrizio continues: "We also produce the Middlesbrough kit and I remember when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was there he wanted long sleeves. He was the only player in the team to want long sleeves so we say 'OK, we'll make some with long sleeves just for Jimmy'. "Fabrizio Ravanelli wanted three-quarter-length sleeves, so again we say 'OK, Ravanelli can have three-quarter-length sleeves'. "You can choose exactly how long or short you want your sleeves to be. This is not a problem because the club is in complete control and if some players want long sleeves and some want short, we will make them." The Middlesbrough team prior to the UEFA Cup final against FC Sevilla at the PSV Stadium in Eindhoven in 2006. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink with long sleeves, some players with short sleeves and some with three-quarter length (Image: Popperfoto via Getty Images) Just how much influence a team has on the control of the design was highlighted further when we reached the model department, where the design has now been printed on to the material and cut into the individual parts (front, back, sleeves, neck).
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. It's a team from a city famed for a lake and in particular a painting. The owner, so impressed with the painting of this lake, wants it as his club's kit. "We only ever say no if it's impossible for us to do. If we can do it, you can have it," Fabrizio continued. "Even if we think we don't like the idea or it's not something we would recommend, it's your choice." Those parts that have been cut into fabric pieces now need to be stitched, so we head to the sewing department and the final point where a machinist is waiting to stitch it together. We are handed the end result, a special commemorative United World top. For the sake of speed and convenience for our eyes, the Errea logo was printed on to the shirt. And as we take a look, Alghamdi is quick to point out. "We wanted the Errea logo to be embroidered, because we feel fans preferred that, so we are given the choice of printing logos on or having them embroidered. We opted for that. The ticket on the shirt can be attached or printed. That's how much we can say whatever we want and that is what makes this different, because you do not get this level of input elsewhere. "We think the shirts represent Sheffield United and we hope the fans see that."
Errea is a member of the UEFA Kit Assistance Scheme
The shirt is complete but that's not where the process ends. This shirt, in a normal circumstance, would then be sent to the club for them to test. Any changes can still be made at this point. Different collar, different logos, different stitching. The shirt will go back and forth until Sheffield United say they are happy and then it's sent to the production factory in Europe to be produced. The thousands of shirts, shorts and socks United have ordered are currently in production and will be available in early July. While the club has many benefits with Errea, with control and flexibility being the two advantages, fans will not care about these details. What matters to supporters is the end result. There are pros and cons to any deal and there will be here when compared to the Adidas one.
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One of the areas where United have made great strides in recent years is retail and, in particular, the leisurewear that Adidas provided. Errea might not be able to compete in this department, or when comparing the quality between the two companies. But where the club feels there is a caveat is in the bespoke element of the design, a level of control you didn't get before. A common complaint with the designs of their German predecessors was that they were basic and chosen from templates. There is no excuse if the design this time proves unpopular. Having listened to fans about the kits they have liked over the years and those that are synonymous with successful periods in the club's history, it is hoped supporters see their identity shine through in these. It's now a waiting game to see how the kits are received by the supporters when they are revealed next month. Will fans feel that what appears a good deal for United World is also a good deal for them? They are, after all, the measure of success and how successful it is will be revealed in the sales and the feedback. The two questions that will be answered are: Will the kits be of sufficient quality for fans to be satisfied and has the club nailed the design? We shall find out, but what was clear and came across in abundance is the level or care and attention given by the manufacturer and the effort that has gone in to hopefully making these designs ones that fans will like.
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