The St.George Illawarra Dragons have issued a media release in relation to their alternative jersey policy following a severe backlash from St.George supporters. As advised by R2K earlier this week, the NRL confirmed that they have not requested that the Dragons wear the alternative jersey on any occasion in 2007.
The Dragons' statement confirms that the limited use of the famous Red V jersey over the past six rounds has not been a result of the demands of the NRL and business partner adidas. Rather, the decision to limit the use of the Red V jersey has been entirely the decision of Dragons' Management.
The St.George-Illawarra statement highlights that the Dragons "...do not have any contractual obligations to adidas regarding if or when we do and don't wear the alternate jersey."
While the Football Office informed supporters this week that the red alternate jersey would be worn six times this year, the Dragons statement outlines that they "...made a decision at the start of this year to wear the alternate strip in five out of the 25 regular season games." The alleged rationale behind this policy is that in 2006 the alternate strip "...represented 26% of the adult jerseys sold which supports this merchandise strategy - there is a definite interest in the alternate strip."
According to the Dragons the red alternate jersey will only be worn once more this season. This will be at the next Wollongong home game in round 17 against Canberra, which is being billed as another "Steelers" heritage match.
It will be the second time this season that the Dragons have failed to use the Red V at a home game.
While the decision to wear the Red V in only 80% of home games in 2007 is unacceptable, it is pleasing that the Dragons have at least outlined their 2007 jersey policy. There would have been less angst amongst Dragons' stakeholders if the Dragons had communicated this policy at the beginning of the season.
Although the Dragons have belatedly offered their 2007 jersey policy, what will season 2008 bring?
St.George-Illawarra have reiterated that the "Red V jersey will always be our main jersey", but there were no guarantees in the media statement that the alternate jersey won't gain greater use in the coming seasons.
Congratulations to the supporters who have stood up for the power of the Red V and the St.George heritage. Stakeholders such as Red V members and St.George DRLFC members should have been consulted before there was any reduction in the use of the Red V.
R2K calls for greater consultation and communication with the fans and for the Red V to be used in all matches unless the Dragons are playing an away game and there is a clash of jerseys. Unless another NRL Club changes its jersey design dramatically, such a clash won't happen any time soon.
FULL MEDIA RELEASE FROM DRAGONS (Leagueunlimited edit - source Dragons Media): CLUB STATEMENT - PLAYING JERSEYS 28 June 2007 By Dragons Media dragons.com.au
In response to a number of emails and phone calls the club has received in relation to the playing jerseys of the Dragons and in support of our business partner adidas, it is appropriate to clearly communicate the Club