Sports Gazette

The sports magazine brought to you by the next generation of sport writers

Keir Starmer backs calls for Nike to scrap new England football kit design

Sir Keir Starmer has appealed to Nike to change the colour of the St George’s Cross on England’s new football shirt to the traditional red after a row over its design. 

The new design shows an altered flag motif featuring a purple, blue, black and red cross on the back of the shirt.

The Labour leader says Nike should reconsider the design: “The flag is used by everybody, it is a unifier, it doesn’t need to be changed”, he told The Sun yesterday.

“We just need to be proud of it. I think they should just reconsider this and change it back.

“I’m not even sure they can properly explain why they thought they needed to change in the first place.”

Starmer also added that the shirts, which are retailing at £124.99 for adults and £119.99 for children, should have their prices reduced.

Embed from Getty Images

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said he “prefers the original” and the national flag is a “source of pride” and identity.

“When it comes to our national flags, we shouldn’t mess with them because they’re a source of pride, identity, who we are, and they’re perfect as they are,” he said.

On social media, the culture secretary Lucy Frazer said: “Fans should always come first, and it’s clear that this is not what fans want.”

“Our national heritage – including St George’s Cross – brings us together. Toying with it is pointless and unnecessary.”

Nike have no plans to recall or change the kit and have labelled it, “A playful update to unite and inspire.”

A spokesperson for the company defended the decision: “The England 2024 Home kit disrupts history with a modern take on a classic.

“The trim on the cuffs takes its cues from the training gear worn by England’s 1966 heroes, with a gradient of blues and reds topped with purple. The same colours also feature an interpretation of the flag of St George on the back of the collar.”

It is not the first time Nike have received criticism relating to England’s football shirts after it emerged they would not be selling a replica version of Mary Earps’ goalkeeper kit during the 2023 Women’s World Cup.

Replica kits of other Lionesses playing outfield were put on sale but hers was not included.

Nike eventually released the shirt, only for it to sell out in five minutes.

Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry has joined Starmer in criticising the new design: “You wouldn’t expect Nike to look at the Welsh flag and change the dragon to a pussycat,” she told Sky this morning.

Former UKIP and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, branded the design an “absolute joke”, saying on GB News, “It bears no relationship to the St George’s Cross whatsoever.” 

Lee Anderson, who recently defected from the Conservatives to Reform UK, told the Daily Express the decision was “virtue-signalling woke nonsense.”

In 2021, Anderson boycotted all of England’s games in the European Championship over players’ decision to take the knee before matches.

The MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire said that by taking the knee the England team was supporting a “political movement.”

He accused the FA and England team of making “a big mistake,” suggesting they “run the risk of becoming like the Labour party and that is having nothing in common with their traditional supporters”.

Despite Labour sitting comfortably in the polls, this interjection is their latest bid to appeal to voters who do not consider the party patriotic. 

A leaked strategy document in 2021 advised Labour to make use of the flag and veterans as part of a rebranding to help it win back the trust of disillusioned voters.

A Labour spokesperson at the time said: “You can call it whatever you want patriotism or whatever, but that’s what he [Starmer] stands for. The union flag represents a country that Labour wants to govern. 

“And the country that Keir Starmer wants to be prime minister of it is a symbol of the country we want to lead.

“That is the patriotism that drives our movement. It is fighting for a better country.”


  • Sam France

    Sam France is an avid tennis watcher and player, frequently found passionately raving about the WTA tour. Interested in all things sport, culture, and politics. A Chelsea fan, who is currently, albeit with significant reservation, trusting an alleged process.