Homeless charity Shelter has expressed its disappointment in the Premier League who refused home clubs to wear away kits next month in a bid to raise awareness and funds for those living on the streets.
As Sportsmail exclusively revealed this week, the charity want home teams to play in their away kits on December 26 and 27 in support of the cause, with several clubs approaching the Premier League this week to gain permission to take part in the project.
But Premier League bosses said the proposal breached rules and added that while clubs could support the charity, they would not be allowed to change their kits. The EFL, meanwhile, has given its full support to the scheme.
And Shelter’s director of campaigns Osama Bhutta has hit out at the Premier League for being ‘perfectly placed’ to help out via the kit swap, but thanked those clubs and players who want to help out for giving their support to the cause.
‘We are disappointed by the Premier League’s decision not to provide any flexibility to make this as big as it can be,’ Bhutta said.
Homeless charity Shelter has slammed the Premier League for not allowing home clubs to wear home kits over Christmas in a bid to support homelessness (pictured: Liverpool away kit)
Shelter wanted teams like Manchester City (above) to wear away kits at home on Boxing Day to raise awareness and funds for homelessness
‘But we hope as many different teams, players and fans – from the grassroot community clubs to the very top – will still get involved in whatever way they can to help fight homelessness with us this Christmas.
‘People should have a safe home, and far too many don’t – that is the biggest rule that has been broken here. The football community is perfectly placed to help, given the importance of ‘home’ to the game.
‘We are excited and encouraged that so many people and clubs have already pledged their support and will be wearing their away kits on Boxing Day – and we know more will follow.’
Shelter — who campaign to end homelessness and bad housing — wanted clubs to make the festive fixtures ‘the annual event where football fights homelessness’.
Premier League clubs expressed their desire to help out, but the league rejected the idea
They sent a wide-ranging presentation in an attempt to drum up support, informing clubs that 280,000 people were registered homeless in England pre-pandemic, with more than 130,000 households made homeless since the coronavirus outbreak.
The charity believe that a switch from home shirts to away jerseys would be a simple act of solidarity as the nation grapples with a housing emergency. They also plan to call on fans to ditch their home shirts for changed colours.
As Sportsmail first revealed this week, the Premier League’s decision to reject the kit amendment triggered a widespread backlash and, at this week’s meeting of top flight clubs, the matter was brought up close to the conclusion under ‘any other business’. Insiders say that clubs agreed to abide by the Premier League ruling.
Meanwhile, in the EFL, Cardiff and Portsmouth have already obtained permission and it is understood two more have since followed suit, with 19 teams expressing a desire to wear the change kits for the No Home Kit campaign, with more coming forward following Sportsmail’s coverage.
The EFL have given their support to the cause, with 19 teams expressing an interest in the project
Some have queried the Premier League’s stance. Gary Neville, the former Manchester United defender, was among many who hit out.
‘Imagine refusing a request to raise money and awareness for homelessness,’ he tweeted. ‘A Johnson-like U-turn on its way if the clubs push hard!’
The competition says that rule M.22.1 states ‘the first priority for home clubs will be their home strip’. But the M section also states that ‘Before the commencement of each Season each Club shall allocate a different shirt number to each member of its first team squad’.
Stuart Latimer, from Newcastle United’s group, urged the Premier League to have a change of heart. ‘It would be a simple gesture,’ he said.
A Newcastle United fan group joined Gary Neville in urging the league to reconsider its stance
‘People would naturally wonder and ask why their teams are wearing their away strip and not their home strip, acutely raising awareness for the charity Shelter and those without a home at a special time of year when most of us are safe, warm and surrounded by family, friends and festivities. I hope the Premier League find it in their hearts to reconsider.’
This season, Edinson Cavani took the No 7 shirt at Manchester United but the Premier League subsequently gave the club dispensation to re-allocate the number to Cristiano Ronaldo, whose brand is named CR7, after he signed from Juventus.
Those playing at home on Boxing Day are Liverpool, Wolves, Burnley, Manchester City, Norwich, Tottenham, West Ham, Aston Villa and Brighton, while Newcastle entertain Manchester United on December 27.
They can choose to support Shelter in other ways, such as wearing t-shirts in the warm-up.