Neal Heard is an expert in the space where football meets fashion. Completing the holy trinity and bringing music back into the mix too, he was involved in the latest link up between the two world's which saw The Libertines sponsor Margate FC. We got his low down on how it all came about and a wider perspective as he explains where the kit game finds itself in today's wardrobe. 

The Libertines appearing on the front of Margate shirts follows a strong line of bands sponsoring a team, where did this one come from and what makes it such a strong fit?

"It was kinda a happy accident. I bumped into an old pal, Luke Mclean who runs the @kill_me_now_gallery who explained he was now working as Maragte F.C’s Creative Director with their switched on General Manager Deny Wilson. We were chatting over the potential methods of allowing smaller but cool switched on clubs to ‘punch above their weight’ in terms of shirt sales and interest and that’s why The Libertines with their links to the town and to football came to mind to pursue as a sponsor."

What do you think something like this can do for a club like Margate?

"I think it’s hard to overestimate how much good this type of thing can do for smaller clubs like Margate. 
Margate with Deny and Luke are obviously a switched on club and understand how imagination grabbing merchandise etc can capture the interest of a much wider audience. So they are looking much needed interest not only to the club but to the once down on heel town itself, and creative cultural concepts like this have a track record of making a difference."

Margate as a whole obviously has a new found status among creative circles and people moving away from London - it also has those very beautifully British seaside connotations - is there a bit of romanticism here?

"I think there is total romanticism going on. These things only work if there’s a core of genuine belief in them. The Libertines are no strangers to Margate have recently located to the town and have opened a new hotel and studio, The Albion Rooms on the seafront, they have long been known for their love of ‘englishness’ and the town kinda captures this feeling, ally this to their love of football and using their band as a positive creative force and you can see why it captures all our imaginations."

Margate Libertines Neal Heard SoccerBible_0001_IMG_1568.jpg

Were you involved with the kit and design of it at all? If so, what can you tell us about how that came together and the influence...

"It was way too much short notice for me to be part of the shirt design on this occasion unfortunately but I think the club and Jako manufacturers have done a grand job, but discussions between a possible @loversf.c x @kill_me_now_gallery Margate F.C kit in the future have been bandied about."

What was the response like from the band, can we expect to see them in the clubhouse soon?

"The band were totally into the idea from the off, as mentioned, they want to be a positive force in the town, and jumped on board to be a part of it. They are curating their own festival day – ‘Sharabang’ which sees the band hijacking the Beach festival at nearby Broadstairs on the 9th September when they will be showcasing the shirts. They are known fans of football, especially Pete’s love of QPR so it’s no fake marriage of convenience."

#TheLibertines have just been announced as the headline shirt sponsors for @Margate_fc!

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From Goldie Looking Chain and Newport to The Libertines and Margate, what do you think excites people about seeing a band name or record label on a shirt?

"Deny said it’s not usual that he’s packing up orders for shirts for exotic locations like Argentina and Chile which he has done the last few days so it just shows the reach of this kind of collaboration. The traditional idea of a middle aged fan in tight shirt is outdated, and the savvy football fans want more now. The crossover between popular cultures is growing and fusing to be honest, I am amazed the big clubs aren’t so savvy as some of the smaller one’s but I guess they just aren’t as hungry."

You helped design the Newport kits for this season, even for someone so influential in the scene as yourself, that's got to be a little surreal / special?

"You’re right, it was the proverbial boyhood dream for a football, fashion and kit geek like myself. 
It was rather daunting not to cock it up and I was pleased they were well received and I had a lupin my throat when I saw the team run out in the strip on Saturday. I am helping out the club on a creative front more and more now, which is great for us both."

From here to the next one, if you could design a football shirt for any musician or artist, who would it be?

"Can I say Barack Obama, because he was damn cool and boy could we do with him around again now."

What's the best contemporary shirt out there right now?

"For starters I thought this was the best football world cup shirts wise that there has been since USA 94. Some beauties on show, like the adidas Argentina away, Belgium and Germany shirts and of course the Nigeria from Nike. I would like to see some more graphics in the EPL design wise, but having said that I loved the beauty in simplicity of the Chelsea away shirt against Huddersfield. It’s definitely looking better jersey wise."

Neal Heard's Lover's FC latest collection took the World Cup by storm. You can pick up a piece of this exclusive Selfridges collaboration here. Additionally, his book "Football Shirts - A Connoisseurs Guide" is available now.

Head here for more info on Margate FC.