The reports first emerged last month that Castore could be about to join former Rangers manager Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa. The brand is world-famous for its connection with tennis Grand Slam winner and British sporting legend Andy Murray with football fans also knowing the Manchester based designer label from its work with the Gers as well as Newcastle and Wolves.
Castore arrived at Ibrox shortly after Gerrard took over as manager of the club, with the former Liverpool legend then leading the Gers to a record 55th Scottish championship. Could they be about to pull off the same move at Villa Park? The British sportswear manufacturer are – if rumours are to be believed – in advanced talks with Aston Villa officials to become the team’s new kit supplier. It’s a deal that’s very possible, with Villa’s current three year deal with Kappa expiring at the end of the 2021/22 season.
If it does go through, the Castore deal could interestingly also tell us how big an influence Gerrard now has at Villa Park and how closely the former England and Liverpool captain is connected to the brand. It might also shed light on the level of backing Stevie G has in the boardroom, especially if they are willing to follow his advice on non-footballing matters and take on a new kit manufacturer.
Followers of the Birmingham based Premier League side may have more important things to worry about at the moment, with the leading sports betting sites having made the club one of the favourites to be relegated at the time of Dean Smith’s sacking. However Gerrard’s arrival has had a positive impact, and Villa have slowly risen to 10th in the league at the time of writing, although there is still lots of work to be done for them to be safe.
In Gerrard’s six league games in charge of Villa so far, the club have only lost twice- once to league leaders Manchester City and the other to in-form Liverpool, both by single goal margins.
If Castore were to begin manufacturing Villa shirts, what can fans expect from the new supplier? Castore certainly aren’t the biggest name in football at the minute but they are working on that and growing all the time, both in presence and reputation. The brand used Rangers as a launchpad, taking advantage of the club’s global fanbase, but it was the same fanbase that almost wrecked the brand within a matter of weeks. After signing the deal to make the Gers’ matchday and training kits at the start of the 2020/21 season there was a tidal wave of interest. Just as they are famous for, those loyal to the Rangers brand went out and snapped up replica home, away and third shirts in the thousands. The tops certainly looked the part & they flew off the shelves faster than Castore could make them. That led to tensions as fans battled for merchandise, forcing Castore to outsource to other nations. Some of those tops were made to such a low quality they almost fell apart after just one wash.
Social media was awash with horror stories of Rangers kits peeling, bursting at the seams or losing badges. The players’ kit was impressive and fans who got in early to buy their tops seemed to get the best available but some others were left with cheap imitations & that left a sour taste in the mouth.
Gerrard faces a battle to avoid the drop
Since swapping Ibrox for Villa Park, Gerrard may have upgraded from the Scottish Prem to the Premier League and will enjoy a much bigger transfer budget, but there is a sense that this might be a stepping stone for him, with the Liverpool job potentially awaiting him when Jurgen Klopp leaves Anfield.
His first and immediate aim will be to avoid relegation though- dropping down to the Championship will certainly make any new kit deal far less lucrative.