Manchester United are the most successful side in the last twenty or so years, with millions of their kits selling worldwide every year; the club however started off with an entirely different name and an entirely different football kit. Manchester United Football Club were first founded as Newton Heath Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Football Club way back in 1878 and the first kit the club wore was a home jersey coloured green and gold. In 1902, the club neared bankruptcy; however a large donation by the managing director of Manchester Breweries (J. H. Davies) saw the club survive. To embrace their new start in the football world, the club pondered over many possible names; they eventually decided on Manchester United due to the suggestion by Italian immigrant Louis Rocca. The club also changed their kit colours to red, and these are the colours we know them by today.
The Manchester club has generally stuck with this design of a red shirt with white shorts, although they did use a white shirt with a red v-neck for their 1909 FA Cup final game against Bristol City as well as for a few seasons in the 1920s. Since their inception, Manchester United have won England's top tier sixteen times, as well as picking up eleven FA Cup trophies and the European Cup twice. They are also known as the 'Red Devils' due to their now famous red shirts, and no matter where one goes in the world the Manchester United shirt is a hard one to avoid.
The 'big name' players that have played at Manchester United in their history mean that their kits are very popular; Ruud Van Nistelrooy used to sell thousands on his own while in recent times fans have tended to favour buying the kits of English striker Wayne Rooney and Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo. The club also had perhaps the most famous footballer off the pitch in David Beckham playing for them at one point; this resulted in many football shirt sales. Beckham became so popular Real Madrid eventually paid out a massive €35 million for his services- the fee would have been well worth it as Real Madrid shirts with the name Beckham on the back sold out in the first day after his arrival.
For their away kit, Manchester United has usually tended to go with a black or blue shirt, although white has been used in the past. This has been sporadically altered in the past; most famously with a grey kit that saw Manchester United win no games while it was used. The grey kit was dropped after United went 3-0 down by halftime in a game against Southampton; according to the players they could not see the kit, leading to the poor results. United also have had a bright yellow strip which they used in the 1970s, and the blue and white strip that they used in 1996. The club's football shirts used to be manufactured by Umbro, however they switched to Nike in 2002. The shirts were sponsored by mobile network operated Vodafone until 23 rd, November 2005 at which point the club agreed a £56.5 million deal with American Investment Group (worth £14.1 million a year). Due to Juventus renegotiating their £15 million a year deal with Tamoil, this is now the biggest shirt sponsorship deal in the football world.
Manchester United shirts are already amongst the more popular and more lucrative shirts in the world of football, and as more and more money continues to flow into the Premiership and the club continue to buy new players –the likes of Carlos Tevez, Nani, Anderson and Owen Hargreaves are all pretty 'big name'– it is likely that the club will only continue to sell more and more football shirts.