Designing a kit for the biggest football teams in the world can be a challenge for athletic apparel companies, and you have to make sure that you get it just right since the kit is going to be worn for an entire season. Unfortunately, there are times when companies like Nike, Adidas, and more, simply miss the mark. There are five instances in English Premier League history in which these teams really missed, creating the worst kits the EPL has seen.
One thing that you’ll notice about the list right away is that every single one of these uniforms is from the 1990s. Needless to say, those who were around during the decade had an interesting taste in fashion. We’ll also be the first to admit that it hasn’t aged well, which is why so many of the “fashion fails” that you see these days came from the 1990s.
The background on the home kits for Middlesbrough was already kind of weird with the strange background that clashed with the Cellnet advertisement on the front. Things got even harder to look at for the road kits as they were white with one of the strangest mismatched patterns we’ve ever seen. The blue pattern made us all squint, it was off-centered, and for some reason extended onto the sleeve.
Middlesbrough had a rough go at it in the 1996-97 season, finishing with just 39 points on 10 wins and 16 draws. The club was relegated from the English Premier League as only Nottingham Forest (more on them later) had fewer points.
Manchester United 1995-96
The road and home kits were just fine for Man U in the 1995-96 season, and the home kits were even considered some of the best in English Premier League history. As for their alternate kit, though, people were not fans. The tops were a faded-out grey with a stripe across the middle that had an advertisement for Sharp Viewcam. It was too busy, and the large numbers and names on the back with thick borders just made things worse.
Even on the rare occasions in which they were wearing the grey kits, it didn’t negatively affect Manchester United’s performance throughout the season. They would win up winning the English Premier League with ease, finishing with 84 total points. That was 10 more than any other team, qualifying Man U for the Champions League.
Coventry City 1992-93
Some kits are bad because they’re boring and don’t have much going on, and then there are those that are bad because there’s simply too much happening. The 1992-93 kits worn by Coventry City fall in the latter category for both the blue and red versions. The patterns didn’t really have any history behind their use and were an eyesore for anyone watching, especially on early 1990s televisions.
The kits were almost as ugly as Coventry City’s performance in the 1992-93 season. Only two teams scored fewer points than Coventry City that season as they put up just 38 points. Luckily for them, two other teams finished with 38 while Coventry had the best goal differential out of the three clubs, keeping them from relegation.
Norwich City 1993-94
In another case of kits that were way too busy and drew attention in a bad way, the Norwich City kits from the 1993-94 season were green and yellow, but not in a good way. The pattern looked like it was a botched attempt at tye-dye, and it clashed with the solid-colored collar. The advertising patch that was dead-center was also an eyesore, with the Norwich and Peterborough Building Society logo not fitting in at all.
There was some good news for Norwich City, though. They were one of the highest-scoring teams in the EPL during the 1993-94 season and easily avoided relegation. The finished with 53 points, which was good enough for 12th overall in the standings.
Nottingham Forest 1996-97
Nottingham Forest had some solid kits when they wore red during the 1996-97 season, but it was a much different case when they wore yellow. With lettering that started at the shoulders and literally dripped down unevenly, it looked like someone made a printing mistake when making these uniforms. Without those, the yellow kits with the red lettering would’ve actually been great.
It was bad enough that Nottingham Forest had to wear the uniforms, and it was made worse by the fact that they finished dead last in the English Premier League. Nottingham Forest finished with just 34 points (five behind 19th-place Middlesbrough) and were relegated to the Football League First Division. They would end up winning the division the following year but then again finished last in the EPL in 1998-99.