STARS ON CLUB SHIRTS: WHAT IS THE RULE?

In this article, we look at the rules around stars on shirts.
Some put a star in connection with the Champions League, those who honor a significant number of league victories, or those who take advantage of the fact that the rules around this symbol are simply lax to let their imagination run wild. In the world of football, the star is known to all. However, its presence is not linked to any universal regulation. Each country has its way of doing things and sometimes, within a country, each club can do what it wants.

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Paris Saint-Germain has just been crowned French Ligue 1 champions for the tenth time in their history and recently unveiled a collector’s jersey featuring the symbolic star above their coat of arms. If it has already been decided that the 2022-2023 PSG shirt will not feature this symbol above the coat of arms but rather on the sleeve, what are the real rules around stars in football? Full deciphering.

SERIE A, THE VERY GOOD PUPIL
If there is one championship where everything is set and where the rules are not fiddled with, it is the Serie A. In Italy, the rules are not only enshrined in the laws of the game, but they are childishly simple. Thus, ten titles offer a star. Juventus have 36 titles to date and can therefore display three stars. Inter Milan, with 19 titles, and AC Milan, with 18 titles, have only one, but if they win this season, the Nerazzurri could wear a second. Simple. Basic.

In Germany too, since 2004, wearing a star in connection with the championships is not surprising. It’s written into the competition’s equipment regulations. Thus, three German championship titles entitle you to display one star, winning five titles represents two stars, ten titles = three stars, twenty titles = four stars, and thirty titles entitle you to display five stars. This is the case with Bayern Munich. A system in which the distribution of stars is certainly rather surprising, but a system in which the rules are defined.

However, it is important to note that in Germany, titles won between 1903 and 1963 do not count. Nor do titles won by former East German clubs such as Dynamo Berlin and Dynamo Dresden. This is why Hamburg, for example, has only one star, even though it has officially won six titles.

LAXITY IN FRANCE, ENGLAND, SPAIN
In France, England, and Spain, however, the situation is different. However, in the last two leagues, there is no rule that a star can be added if the club has won X national titles. On the other hand, nothing seems to prohibit it either.

In France, it is the same thing. There are no rules about this symbol in the equipment regulations. This gives freedom to those who wish to display a star. The same applies to Greece, where Olympiakos displays four stars while Panathinaikos and AEK do not. The same is true in Portugal, where Benfica has three stars, while FC Port and Sporting have none.


In France, Olympique de Marseille and AS Saint-Etienne are the only two French clubs to permanently display a star above their crest. While PSG has introduced this on their shirt, the symbol will remain ephemeral and will not appear on next season’s kit. Before the change of crest, FC Nantes displayed their eight stars of champion within the logo. This is no longer the case. On the other hand, for ASSE, it is the fact of having won ten French championship titles that are highlighted, while for OM, the star symbolizes victory in the Champions League.

OM, NOTTINGHAM FORREST, CELTIC, HUDDERSFIELD: THESE STARRED CLUBS
The Phocaean club is not the only one to honor its victory in the most beautiful of club competitions. In this small world, Nottingham Forrest is attached to its two C1 winners’ stars (1979, 1980), as are Celtic, winners in 1969. Despite only one victory in their history, clubs such as Feyenoord, Hamburg, and Aston Villa do not display the precious golden symbol, synonymous with European triumph.


But apart from winning the European Cup, some clubs display stars in a rather bold way. For example, Manchester City’s former crest featured three stars. Three stars that had no meaning and were simply there for decorative purposes. Still, in England, Huddersfield also displays three stars to honor their three English championship titles (1924, 1925, 1926). The same goes for Burnley (two titles, two stars).

To take it a step further, the Bury club celebrates its two FA Cup victories (1900, and 1903) with two stars while Ipswich (D3) displays three stars for three different trophies: the Championship in 1962, the Cup in 1978, and the UEFA Cup in 1981.

In short, there is a certain cacophony that still reigns in football today concerning these stars. Symbolic for some, purely decorative for others, the stars do not leave anyone indifferent. To see this, you only have to look at the effect of the announcement of the PSG star jersey on the OM supporters. One thing is certain, the question of the star will be raised again in France in the years to come if OM were to win their tenth French championship title or if PSG were to win their first Champions League. The story is therefore far from over.

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