Vintage shirts help football-mad Tomas kick-start a new career

A football-mad entrepreneur has made a remarkable comeback after being made redundant.

Tomas Jones, 28, from Ruabon, near Wrexham, turned his passion for the beautiful game into a successful business selling replica football shirts and match-worn shirts.

Now his internet-based company,, has scored a global hit and has customers as far afield as America, Australia and Asia.

In all, Tomas has over 5,000 shirts for sale, including one worn by former Italian superstar Roberto Baggio in the 1994 World Cup.

His favourite, though, is one that has come full circle – a Barcelona shirt worn by former Wales manager Mark Hughes, who comes from Ruabon.

The local legend played at the Nou Camp in the 1980s following his transfer from Manchester United.

Things didn’t look so rosy for Tomas when the former welder was one of 200 people who lost their jobs when the Air Products factory in Acrefair closed down in 2009.

The timing for was “pretty dire” because he had just signed to buy a flat just days before the bombshell news came through.

But his never-say-die attitude turned adversity into triumph with the help of Chartered Accountants and Statutory Auditors Coxeys who have offices in Wrexham and Saltney.

According to Tomas, Coxeys’ help in navigating the potential minefield of setting up and running the company was vital.

He said: “It’s absolutely imperative that you have the right financial and tax advice when you’re running a company.

“It means I can just concentrate on the football shirts side of the business instead of worrying about tax returns and any potential pitfalls.

“Coxeys are helping the company to develop and grow – they are providing expert support that’s enabling me to maximise our potential.”

The idea to set up the company came during the World Cup in 2006 when he noticed that England shirts were being sold for £13 apiece by Sports Direct in their shops.

The same shirts were fetching £25 a time on Ebay so he ended up buying  200 from Sports Direct and selling them on for a profit.

He said: “I noticed that everybody wanted the old shirts, the vintage ones, and I just got hooked then trying to find the old ones.

“The shirts I sell are the real deal, they are not retro remakes pretending to be shirts from 20 years ago. I buy many of them from members of the public who can contact me via the website.

“They are the ones you bought in the shops at the time. I also sell the players’ jerseys, the ones that were worn or issued to them for games.

“I sell kids shirts for as little as £10 while some of the vintage shirts go for between £50 and £250.

“The most expensive ones I’ve sold were shirts issued  to Manchester United players, Paul Ince and Steve Bruce, in the  Champions League against Barcelona in the Nou Camp in 1994.

“They were only on the website for about two hours before we sold them for £650 each.

“The best sellers are the Manchester United and Liverpool shirts, along with Arsenal.

“Seventy per cent of the shirts go abroad to places like Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan. We also sell to America, Australia, Italy, France and the rest of Europe.

“I can see the company growing every year,  I think the potential is massive because the world loves football.

Anthony Lewis, a Director of Coxeys, is delighted to have been able to play a role in Tom’s success

He said: “Tomas’s story is inspirational. When faced with being made redundant, he grasped the opportunity to go into business and make a success of his life.

“We see our job basically is to encourage people like Tomas and also to take the burden off them in relation to things like tax, payroll and compliance.

“The business is a great success story and there’s no limit to how far Tomas can actually grow this business.”

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