Bohemian Football Club made headlines last month when they announced that Bob Marley’s image would be featured on their away jersey next season.
The jersey’s design also included red, green and yellow stripes to represent Marley’s Rastafarian faith. The jersey certainly received a lot of attention online, both by people who lauded the design and those who had no time for it whatsoever. Other League of Ireland clubs Sligo Rovers and Bohs’ local rivals St. Patrick’s Athletic mocked the design on Twitter with their own jerseys. Sligo Rovers’ spoof featured Westlife, while St. Pat’s spoof featured Phil Lynott.
However, last week Bohemians were dealt some bad news. The Phibsborough club were contacted by representatives of the late singer who informed them that they had no right to display Bob Marley’s image on the jersey.
In an official club statement, Bohemians explained: “Bohemian Football Club acted in good faith and followed the correct process when purchasing the licence for this image via a world-leading third-party photo licensing company.
“However, the Bob Marley representative agency has informed us that this company did not have the right to grant any such licence for this image. We are dealing with this separately.
“Subsequently, following direct correspondence with the Bob Marley representative agency, they cannot license the image to the Bohemian Football Club due to their own contractual and other obligations.
“Consequently, we can no longer supply the jersey with the image of Bob Marley as advertised.”
Niall O’Lochlainn, a street artist who painted the mural of Bob Marley at Dalymount Park, in commemoration of the reggae legend’s 1980 gig at the stadium, shared his thoughts on the controversy with The City.
“Not many people know Bob Marley played in Ireland, let alone Dalymount Park.”, he said.
“I think it’s one of those gig that says something about the culture of Bohemians, the gig was supposedly supposed to happen in the RDS but they pulled out as they have it in their code of ethics not to deal with organised groups such as Rastafarians, so instead the gig happened in Dalymount Park.
“It’s one of those gigs that is important in terms of Dublin’s urban history. I admire Bohs for trying to celebrate that small piece of Dublin history and fair play to them for taking the chance! It’s a pity that it’s getting shut down, the club bought the image and took a chance.
“It’s sad [that] we live in a world where red tape overrules a brave idea. I don’t follow football but I support Bohs as a team owned by its fans and [for] taking chances to celebrate their history in music and in football!” said Niall.
Irish Daily Mirror journalist and Bohs’ fan Donagh Corby, echoed Niall’s disappointment.
“I was really excited when I saw the shirt initially, and I wasn’t the only one. I know how much League of Ireland sides struggle to get mainstream attention, so to see something capture the imagination like that jersey did was brilliant. Bob Marley’s own son was a huge fan, he said that he loved it and it was the dopest jersey he had ever seen,” Donagh said.
“However, it was obviously an … oversight on behalf of the club to think that the jersey was going to be allowed to go on sale without having ever been in contact with the Bob Marley estate. I think it’s overall been a success for the club, but it would have been great for us to at least get one match out of it.”
Bohemians received plenty of publicity as a result of the jersey but will be hoping that their football makes the headlines once the League of Ireland kicks off again in February.