When you watch a professional soccer match, it’s hard to ignore the gigantic sponsors’ logos screenprinted onto the chests and sleeves of each club’s jersey. But those deals are bigger-than-big business: Chevrolet, for example, pays £53 million ($69M) each year to put its logo on Manchester United’s kit, ensuring that the Premier League side look like slightly-more-mobile Chevy Malibus.
But one non-league team in northern England will start its season in shirts provided by its own sponsor, and they’ll look less like mid-sized American cars than they do giant British wieners—and that’s by design. Bedale AFC’s kit was donated by North Yorkshire sausage-maker Heck Foods, so each shirt and shorts look like a ketchup and mustard-covered hot dog. (Bedale’s goalkeeper will be the only player in a non-hot dog design; keepers wear a different colored kit than their position-playing teammates, so he’ll look like a flaming charcoal grill instead.)
“This is our new hot dog kit. It’s basically a sausage in a bun, with the Crick and Watson double helix tomato and mustard, and it goes right the way down through the shorts,” club chairman Martyn Coombs told BBC Look North. “On the back, the numbers are in sausages and our new logo, which is ‘You’ll Never Pork Alone.’”
Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time the club has worn sausage-themed shirts: its previous Heck-designed uniforms were a huge hit, depending on who you asked. The shirts were featured on TV or online in a half-dozen different countries and—no shit—the club was also covered by “Pig World” magazine. It was also voted the seventh-worst kit of all time in an online survey last year. (“We are determined to make the top three [worst designs] with our hot dog kit,” assistant manager Ian Richardson told the Northern Echo.)
The club is hoping that the new unis will be as successful as last year’s, both on the pitch and off. Bedale won the inaugural North Riding Football League Division One, and sales of the original sausage shirts have helped it raise almost £145,000 for a prostate cancer charity.
“As an amateur football club we rely on the generosity of local businesses to sponsor us, health and fitness you can appreciate is paramount,” Coombs said. “In the past, we’ve been sponsored by Hall’s Fish and Chips of Bedale, R & R Ice Cream of Leeming Bar, and now Heck Sausages, so you can see our bodies are temples.”
Although the responses to the shirts’ debut has been largely positive, at least one fan was profoundly disturbed. “It’s terrible,” he tweeted. “You never put ketchup on a hot dog.”