Despite Nike-sale uncertainty, CSA and Umbro Canada stay the course By Steven Sandor Posted on August 29, 2012 1 0 726 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Umbro Canada's blue centenary kit was a hit. PHOTO: CANADIAN SOCCER ASSOCIATION While the Umbro brand is for sale, and has been rocked by news that it has lost its most prized asset — the English FA — there isn’t a change expected in the business relationship between the soccer label and the CSA. Umbro is in the second of a four-year deal with the Canadian Soccer Association. And Umbro Canada vice-president Mike Shoemaker, said there is “no change between Umbro Canada and the CSA,” adding that the brand is ramping up for Canada’s next set of World Cup qualifiers in September. In terms of exposing Canadian soccer to more fans, Umbro has been an awfully good partner for the CSA. PR campaigns have been launched to bring Canadian national-team games into the media spotlight. The blue centennial shirt was a sellout success. You see fans with Canadian national-team shirts who never would have worn them before, simply because they were impossible to find before the CSA signed on with Umbro in 2011. “We have put a lot of emphasis on it (Canadian national teams),” said Shoemaker. “For us, it really helps our business in the grassroots levels of soccer in this country.” But Umbro is for sale by its current owner, Nike. Nike bought Umbro in 2007 for US$580 million, and isn’t expected to fetch that price in a sale. And, before Umbro has a new owner, Nike has aggressively sought to convert some of Umbro’s biggest pro- and national-team contracts to swoosh deals. The sports business world was rocked on Monday when the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported that, for the first time since the 1950s, the England team would no longer be wearing Umbro. The paper broke the news that England, starting in 2013, will be wearing Nike kits, even though its original deal with Umbro wasn’t set to expire till 2018 — a clear case of brand conversion. (CLICK HERE to see that Daily Mail piece) Manchester City will also be making that move from Nike to Umbro. Everton has gone from Umbro to Le Coq Sportif to Nike. (Edited) It’s clear that the strategy from Nike is to retain Umbro’s biggest clients, and convert them to the swoosh, luring them from the brand that may have an uncertain future now that the masters in Beaverton, Ore. have put the “For Sale” sign on the brand. But Shoemaker said no such offer has been made to the CSA. Umbro Canada is staying the course. And, the Umbro-Nike switch for the English FA has not been officially announced — but has been widely reported. So Shoemaker said he can’t comment on that situation. The Canadian Soccer Association maintains that it’s staying the course with its brand — and, as partners, the two parties are always in close contact. So, it’s not like the news of what’s happening to Umbro around the world isn’t monitored by the CSA brass. Umbro and the CSA made the deal in early 2011, when Gerald Woodman ran the Umbro brand in Canada, and he’s now with Adidas. And the PR agency that steered Umbro through its early successes with CSA (think the “See Thee Rise” campaign), well that’s gone, too. It no longer represents the brand. Shoemaker confirmed that a new PR agency has not been secured. “We felt that at this point, with the brand for sale, we had to pull back in terms of the representation of the brand.” And, when things settle, when Umbro does get a new owner, items like representation and new PR campaigns will move forward.