The Basques, like many in Spain, have struggled to find a suitable shirt sponsor, a widespread problem emanating from the dominance of a handful of big clubs through a sink-or-swim TV deal.
So this season each Sociedad player will wear a different name of one of the club’s 25,000 members, or ‘socios’, in the blank space where a sponsor would normally appear.
The first public display of the stunt was made on Thursday night for the 2-1 win over Sevilla, having previously done it for a TV ad.
The club call their initiative ‘We carry you on our shirts’. The names, chosen at random, will be rotated throughout the season.
While it is unlikely to raise the millions of euros a sponsorship deal would generate, the idea could see membership and season-ticket sales boosted.
Last season Valencia decided to promote the club’s Twitter profile on their shirts, while Sevilla charged fans to put small photos of themselves within shirt numbers.
From 2003-05 Atletico Madrid, who had done a deal with Columbia Pictures, promoted a different blockbuster movie each month, with the Spiderman shirt particularly in demand. They also allowed fans to buy a blank shirt in case they didn’t fancy that month’s romantic comedy hit.