Man Utd threatens pair with legal action for making doodles of players

Man Utd threatens married couple behind Panini Cheapskates with legal action unless they stop selling ‘wonky’ doodles of players on social media

  • Alex and Sian Pratchett set up Panini Cheapskates to sell their parody drawings
  • They have drawn many Premier League clubs and have had no issue before
  • But now Manchester United have banned them because of intellectual property 

They may be the biggest football club in the world but that hasn’t stopped Manchester United waging a war with a married couple from Oxford. 

Alex and Sian Pratchett, known as Panini Cheapskates on Twitter, have been making deliberately bad and ‘wonky’ drawings of footballers in the style of the iconic Panini albums.

The couple have built up a cult fan base, with more than 28,000 followers and 1,900 sales on Etsy of their parodies of the iconic football stickers.

Panini Cheapskates versions of former Liverpool striker Luis Suarez (left) and former Chelsea star Saloman Kalou

But Manchester United have taken issue with their doodles of stars such as David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs, saying they infringe their intellectual property rights.

Panini Cheapskates said on Twitter: ‘Sad times. Man Utd got in touch and made us stop selling our wonky drawings of their ex-players.

‘They sent us a bunch of trademark numbers, including some that relate to their badge. So they’re saying that this is intellectual property theft.’ 

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Mr and Mrs Pratchett have raised around £14,000 for charity with their sticker art although the Manchester United drawings were for profit.

They raised £4,500 for charity with their doodles during the 2016 European Championships and have donated money to Stonewall, Cancer Research UK and Macintyre, a charity for people with learning disabilities. 

But Manchester United said: ‘While we understand the situation with Panini Cheapskates, permission to use the club’s intellectual property can only be granted to its official licensees or partners.

Alex and Sian Pratchett have been making deliberately bad and ‘wonky’ drawings of footballers in the style of the iconic Panini albums. Pictured: some of the couple’s efforts for their 2018 World Cup stickers

Alex and Sian Pratchett drew themselves in these efforts that they uploaded to Twitter 

‘Because Panini Cheapskates’ items featured the Manchester United word mark, removed them from their site.’ 

When asked if they would mount a legal challenge, the artists said: ‘Looking into it, but it doesn’t look promising. Ah well.’

Panini Cheapskates have drawn around 1,500 players and offer drawings of many other Premier League clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool.

But Manchester United are the only club to have made a complaint.

Since then, Panini Cheapskates have released new drawings called Man Red without a club badge.

It features drawings of players with their names misspelled such as Ray Wooney (Wayne Rooney), Derrick Container (Eric Cantona), All Mince (Paul Ince) and Crusty Arnold Ratnaldo (Cristiano Ronaldo).

Manchester United refused to comment on these new drawings.

Got, got, need: The story of Panini 

For many, half the fun of a World Cup is in collecting stickers of the players rather than watching the football. 

But how did this trend begin?

The Panini brothers set up a company in Modena, Italy, in 1961, selling trading cards, magazines, comic books and stickers.

Panini football stickers have become part of the World Cup tradition

Their football cards became very popular and at the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, they formed a partnership with FIFA to produce a sticker album, although this wasn’t released in the UK.

Since then, Panini have released a sticker book for every World Cup.

Phrases such as ‘got, got, need’ became popular as children swapped with each other to complete the book with players from every national team in the competition featured.

But it is an expensive hobby and it has been calculated that it could have cost as much as £773.60 to fill the 2018 Russia World Cup album.

During the competition, Panini produced as many as 10 million card packages per day.

There were 682 stickers to collect and only five in each pack. 

A full album from the 1970 World Cup recently sold at auction for £5,050.

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