Props to Tom Wagner and Knighthead Capital Management. You’ve just given Birmingham City a proper identity again.
After quite a few years of mismanagement and a stark lack of identity or vision both on and off the pitch, Birmingham City could be on their way back—and they’re doing so in a very interesting way.
Two weeks ago, the English Football League (EFL) ratified an approach from U.S.-based Knighthead Capital Management to become majority owners of the Blues, with Tom Wagner (Knighthead co-founder and co-CEO) being installed as the club’s new chairman.
In the official statement announcing the acquisition, Wagner said that Knighthead would “create new and exciting commercial relationships, leveraging global businesses that Knighthead is connected to.” And that promise has come true just a couple of weeks into their ownership of the club.
Earlier this week, Birmingham City announced streetwear behemoth UNDEFEATED as their new principal partner in a move that once again puts football at the intersection of streetwear, fashion, and culture.
Not only will UNDEFEATED be the front-of-shirt sponsor for both the men’s and women’s teams, but they’re also releasing a number of capsule collections, promising more strategic marketing projects in the future, and becoming the club’s creative directors.
The role of a “guest” creative director is something that hasn’t caught on in the UK yet, but is rife in the US right now (see Daniel Arsham at the Cleveland Cavaliers, Ronnie Fieg at the New York Knicks). Is this the start of this crossing over to the UK?
(The launch imagery for the capsule collection is incredible—see below.)
For me, the most interesting quote in the announcement is from UNDEFEATED co-founder James Bond, who said:
“It allows us to evolve beyond the streetwear category and grow authentically through sport. Since day one, UNDEFEATED has been a brand that athletes wear in action, to and from the facility, so being on the jerseys and the pitch is authentic to our brand DNA.”
Authentic storytelling at the heart of a partnership makes this a partnership destined for success, right?
I’m definitely interested to see how this partnership evolves and how the city of Birmingham and its cultural icons benefit from it.
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