Exclusive: Subbuteo ‘Pro’ set under consideration as Longshore commits long term

Subbuteo license holder Longshore has confirmed a ‘Pro’ set is being considered by the company as it commits itself long term to the 75-year-old brand.

Hong Kong based Longshore secured the Subbuteo license in 2020 with grand plans to bring the brand back to former glories. However COVID-impacted supply routes, underwhelming new products and poor marketing has left many fans of the brand wondering if Subbuteo has a long term future with the company.

Subbuteo.Online asked Longshore about its plans for Subbuteo and it committed to a ‘long term’ future with the brand name and hinted at a new set aimed at the more competitive side of the game.

A spokesperson for the company told Subbuteo.Online: “We would like to clarify that we are committed to the brand for the long term.”

The company added: “The Pro set is still under consideration as we need to consider multiple factors like production, commercial viability and feedback from distributors and customers.”

It means a Pro set would only be viable if the cost of producing the players and equipment is low enough for distributors such as University Games in the UK to want to stock the game. A second option for the brand would be to team up with an existing produce of ‘pro’ table football equipment including brands who produce flat-base players, astro pitches and tournament goals in order to keep down costs and produce the first ever flat-base official Subbuteo set.

In recent years Longshore has become more involved in the more competitive side of Subbuteo, supporting last year’s Subbuteofest by donating pitches and trophies for the winners of the tournament. The brand is also reportedly supportive of the upcoming table football World Cup in Tunbridge Wells in September.

A Pro set would be a change of direction for the brand, whose product launches have slowed in recent years. The most recent launch, an electronic Subbuteo timer, was only officially confirmed by UK distributor University Games this week on the brand’s social media and prices and availability information has not yet been revealed.

Previously, a botched Maradona set launch that saw the box design and contents change several times and zero availability for UK buyers was the last new Subbuteo set to arrive. The brand has successfully released England, England Lionesses and Liverpool FC sets, as well as a rollable pitch, new Subbuteo balls and several unlicensed generic teams since taking ownership of the license.

Subbuteo owner Hasbro has itself been suffering in recent months after announcing a staggering 20% drop in revenue for the final three months of 2023, as well as 1,100 redundancies as the toy giant sought to drastically cut costs. The company saw a drop in sales of games and looks to be refocusing on key licensing opportunities in TV and gaming based off the success of licensing revenue from the new Baldur’s Gate computer game and Monopoly Go.

The difficult end to the year also saw Hasbro drop over 50% of its brands in the toy space.

Chief Financial Officer Gina Goetter said in a statement. “As we navigated the current environment, we took aggressive steps to optimize our inventory, reset the cost structure, and sharpen our portfolio focus on play with the eOne film and TV divestiture.”

Hasbro stopped actively producing and marketing Subbuteo several years ago and has since licensed the brand out to Longshore, as well as one-off deals with a number of UK high street chains to produce on-off sets and clothing. The most recent licensing deal was with Pretty Green, which produced an Oasis and Blur inspired box set, clothes, figurines and keyrings.

Hasbro’s troubles has increased the likelihood of offloading Subbuteo as a brand entirely but Longshore insists it holds the license and will continue to do so ‘long term’.

Stephen Hurrell
Stephen Hurrellhttps://subbuteo.online
Stephen is the founder and editor of The Hobby Online and The Hobby by Subbuteo.Online print magazine. He is a giant nerd and specialises in Subbuteo, retro football kits and consumer stories. A journalist and editor of 15 years, he has written about football for some of the UK's biggest publications.

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