Over recent years, New Balance have slowly worked their way into establishing themselves as one of the leading sportswear providers for football teams across the globe. By acquiring teams such as Celtic, Porto and even being Liverpool’s main sponsor for a five-year stretch, they’re no strangers to working with clubs of huge fanbases. It comes as no surprise that whichever team they work with they try and really integrate themselves into the culture of not only the club, but also the fanbase and the surrounding city.
In 2017 they began working with their then NB sponsored Liverpool to create a club specific trainer. To celebrate Liverpool’s 125th anniversary, an adaptation of the classic ‘NB 247’ was released to fans, the first LFC trainers available in the UK for more than a decade. The design featured a rich red colour scheme alongside white NB logos and featuring the iconic Liver bird crest. Naturally, a bespoke design such as this went down tremendously with the Merseyside faithful with many fans rocking these at the Kop end the following season. NB took note of this and were praised for creating an iconic yet subtle design to commemorate such an occasion for the club. Following this success, NB were keen to release bespoke designs for their other sponsored teams across Europe and naturally jumped at the chance to work with Celtic a couple of years later on another special release.
Following on from its historic ‘Treble Treble’ win, Scottish football club Celtic teamed up with sponsor NB to launch a special-edition take on the classic 997H silhouette. With an iconic green and white mesh upper, the collaborative release also featured Celtic’s famous four-leaf clover crest on its tongue. It’s fitting that two clubs who share the same ‘You’ll never walk alone’ anthem was given such opportunity by their lead sponsor to collab on such special commemorative events with the passionate Celtic fanbase equally clamouring to get their hands on this release. Next up to receive the NB trainer treatment was the Portuguese giants, FC Porto.
Yet again NB went down the 997H route with two tailor-made designs for the Liga NOS runners up. Another club steeped in a rich history of over 127 years, the FC Porto fanbase is one of the strongest in Europe and again have lapped up this collaboration. After releasing design one back in 2020, NB followed it up this year with their second release made ‘for a real dragon’.
With the players wearing this design pre match at the Estádio do Dragão, it takes that fan connection one step further and creates a real feeling of unity and belief that the players themselves are as passionate as the fans are about this great club. Featuring the club’s famous blue and white palette plus gold tones, the special design includes ‘FCP’ lettering, whilst the Club badge is also added to the inner sole. A special signature which translates to ‘Like us, one of us’ in recognition of the special bond between FC Porto fans around the world can also be found in the shoe.
2021 hasn’t only seen the FC Porto NB collab however, Roma, another of NB’s sponsored outfits has recently announced the release of their very own. With Jose Mourinho joining the Italian club this summer, it was only right for the special one to wear a special pair of trainers, right? With NB once again going with the popular 997H silhouette, the club’s traditional yellow and red palette features whilst the iconic Club badge is also added to the front of the shoe, sitting proudly on the tongue. The heritage inspired silhouette is part of NB’s ‘Only Roma’ campaign for the season ahead, in recognition of Roma as a way of life. For me, the common theme across the board is how well NB managed to capture the essence of both the city and the heritage of each club without creating ’corny’ or over the top designs, something the average fan on the terrace can feel proud to wear. Good job New Balance, hopefully we’ll see many more designs as the years go by and new teams are acquired.