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Housing

Will your football team be wearing an away kit on Boxing Day to raise awareness of homelessness?

Shelter’s No Home Kit plan to use football to put the spotlight on homelessness might have been rejected by the Premier League but clubs around the country are still taking part.

Shelter’s No Home Kit plan to ask football clubs to raise awareness of homelessness on Boxing Day proved controversial.

The homelessness charity revealed that they had asked clubs all over the country to wear away kits while playing at home in the traditional festive fixtures.

While the idea seemed like a simple and effective way for the national sport to recognise one of the UK’s most pressing issues, it met opposition from football bosses.

But some clubs have decided to press on anyway. Here’s a breakdown of which clubs are taking a stand against homelessness this Boxing Day.

What is Shelter’s plan?

Shelter’s No Home Kit campaign is aiming to create an equivalent of Action for Children’s Christmas Jumper Day – a single awareness day where everyone can focus on one issue.

The charity’s plan is to have all football teams playing in their home stadium on Boxing Day wear their away kit. Football teams traditionally only wear their changed strip when their colours clash with the oppositions.

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But Shelter hope that the stunt will raise awareness around the issue of homelessness as, in kit terms at least, no team would be at home.

The charity is also asking clubs to auction off home shirts signed by players to raise money for their efforts to end homelessness across the UK for good.

“No Home Kit is a simple Boxing Day campaign where clubs and fans swap their home colours for their away or third kit. This will powerfully show their support for all those without a safe home today.

“We want as many teams, players and fans as possible to join No Home Kit and work with us to help those experiencing the harsh realities of homelessness this winter. Everyone involved in No Home Kit can do something special by bringing the entire football community together to fight the housing emergency.”

Who supported the idea?

News of the plan broke in November after it was revealed that Premier League clubs would not be allowed to take part.

But the idea attracted support from some clubs as well as former footballers and pundits. Former Manchester United defender and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville criticised the Premier League’s stance. He tweeted: “Imagine refusing a request to raise money and awareness for homelessness. A Johnson like u-turn on its way if the clubs push hard!”

Max Rushden, a television presenter who leads The Guardian’s Football Weekly podcast, also slammed the move, referencing Newcastle United’s Saudi-led takeover. He said: “Rules mean they can’t help a homelessness charity. Rules mean they can let a country with an appalling human rights record buy a great football club.”

Shelter’s plan also chimed with football supporters who collect food to give to food banks in their local area. Stuart Latimer, from Newcastle fan group NUFC Fans Foodbank said it was a “simple gesture” and hoped the Premier League would “find it in their hearts to reconsider”. Manchester City fans’ MCFC Fans Foodbank Support also backed the plan. The group’s co-founder Nick Clarke said the idea was an “easy win”.

Why will Premier League clubs not take part?

The Premier League initially said Shelter’s plan was against the rules. Wolves and Brighton were reported to be among the clubs who initially asked league bosses if they could take part but were told it was against the rules.

The Premier League said it hadn’t rejected the plan – but stated clubs are encouraged to support charitable causes only when that support complies with its rules. The league’s rules around kits state the first priority is that outfield players for home teams should wear their home kits.

Rules do also state clubs are allowed to change their shirt sponsor once per season to support good causes.

A Premier League spokesperson said: “The Premier League receives a large number of requests from charities every season however we aren’t able to support all centrally. Clubs are entitled to support charitable causes, and we encourage clubs to do so, provided it is in compliance with Premier League rules.”

However club chief executives later voted against supporting the plan at a shareholder’s meeting on November 11.

Which clubs are taking part?

Despite Premier League opposition, fans of Tottenham, Everton, Brighton and Hove Albion, Brentford and Watford have vowed to wear changed kits even if their team will not be able to follow suit.  

Shelter had more luck with the EFL, who represent the three divisions below the Premier League, and other lower leagues further down the football league pyramid.

The housing charity have said teams in the Championship, League One and League Two as well as the National League, Northern Premier, Isthmian League, Southern Leage and at grassroots levels all support the initiative. Teams from Wales JD Cymru League will also take part.

The teams confirmed to be taking part include:

  • Barnsley
  • Cardiff City
  • Carlisle United
  • Preston North End
  • Portsmouth
  • Tranmere Rovers
  • FC Halifax Town
  • Aldershot
  • Wrexham
  • King’s Lynn Town
  • Stockport County
  • Barnet
  • Wealdstone
  • Torquay United
  • Dover Athletic
  • Weymouth
  • Bromley
  • Bala Town
  • The New Saints
  • Flint Town
  • Aberyswyth Town
  • Penybont
  • Newtown
  • Atherton Colleries
  • Bamber Bridge
  • FC United of Manchester
  • Grantham Town
  • Matlock Town
  • Mickleover
  • Scarborough Athletic
  • Stafford Rangers
  • Stalybridge Celtic
  • Whitby Town
  • Witton Albion
  • Hackney Wick FC
  • Caversham United
  • Lea United
  • Merthyr Town
  • Ynyshir Albions FC
  • AFC Telford

Some Premier League and EFL teams who are playing away have also asked supporters to wear away kits in the crowd to back Shelter:

  • Brentford 
  • Brighton and Hove Albion
  • Everton
  • Tottenham Hotspur
  • Watford
  • Stoke City
  • Ipswich Town
  • Oxford United
  • Barrow
  • Forest Green Rovers
  • Leyton Orient
  • Rochdale
  • Salford City

And the campaign has even transcended football as a sport with rugby league team Bradford Bulls also pledging to wear their away kit on Boxing Day.

Football manufacturer Mitre has also created a unique ball to contribute to Shelter’s campaign. The Mitre x Shelter ball is available from Mitre’s website for £12 (RRP) on mitre.com with £5 from each sale donated to Shelter.

Simon Breckon, Mitre brand director, said: “Christmas is a poignant and difficult time of year for many and this gives fans and football communities the chance to come together and hopefully help make a difference.”

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