How clubs sponsored by Opel dealt with UEFA’s ‘sponsor clash’ rule


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Until the end of the 2009-10 season, UEFA had a rule that clubs opposing each other in European competition couldn’t feature the same sponsor’s logo on their shirts.

The regulations for that season were the last to feature the following stipulation:

Clash of shirt sponsor

19.10 If two clubs meeting in the competition have the same shirt sponsor, the home team may wear their regular sponsor advertising whereas the visiting team may only wear advertising for a product of the said sponsor. No identical advertising elements may appear on the shirts of the two teams in question. The visiting club must send a sample of such new shirts to the UEFA administration for approval.

For the following season, that requirement was removed and, as luck would have it, Real Madrid and AC Milan – both sponsored by Bwin – were paired together in the group stages.

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A year later, Milan – by now sponsored by Fly Emirates – would come up against Arsenal, who have been partners with the Dubai airline since 2006.


Emirates are ubiquitous among Europe’s elite, with Arsenal, Hamburg, Milan, Real Madrid and Paris St-Germain currently carrying their name. Incidentally, in Arsenal’s first season with Emirates, they encountered Hamburg in the Champions League, and for the two clubs’ group games, the away side had the word ‘Dubai‘ on their shirts instead.

German car manufacturer Opel once held a similar status as a multi-team sponsor. Having been associated with Feyenoord, Fiorentina and Standard Liege – they are back with the Dutch side again – by the mid-90s, three of what would become the Emirates five – Milan, Real and PSG – were in their portfolio, along with Czech side Sparta Prague (and the Republic of Ireland).

In 1995, Milan met Sparta in the UEFA Cup and in each game, the away side went sponsorless – though it could have been the case that advertising a product of the sponsoring firm wasn’t allowed at the time.

To mark the fact that PSG had come into their stable, Opel sponsored a triangular competition between its three marquee clubs in 1996. Naturally, the pushing of the brand was welcomed, rather than prohibited, here.


The competition would be repeated in 1997 (when Milan wore a one-off change strip) and 1999 with the same three teams, before the entry requirements were relaxed in 2000.

In the 97-98 Champions League, Bayern and PSG were drawn in the same group. For their meeting at the Olympiastadion, PSG wore blank shirts…


…but in the return game at the Parc des Princes, Bayern carried the message, ‘Sportler für Organspende’ (‘Athletes for organ donation’).


In the 2000-01 competition, it would be the turn of Milan and PSG to meet. On this occasion, both clubs took the opportunity to promote the Opel Corsa. Incidentally, Milan would from time to time use other Opel model names.

Two years later, Bayern met Milan, but by this stage the German giants had ended their 13-year deal with Opel, joining forces with Deutsche Telekom instead, and so no change was needed.

Midweek Mashup – Manchester United, 1957


A big, successful club from the north-west of England wearing red shirts, red shorts and red socks – it must be Liverpool?

The Reds have been all-red since 1965 (not 1964, as is often erroneously stated, as they kept white socks until the end of the 64-65 season) but it was a look that Manchester United first used seven years previously.

Having won the league in 1956, United wore a modified kit in Europe, with a slightly more reflective shirt worn to allow better visibility under floodlights, while the normal black socks with red tops were replaced by solid red versions.

For the European Cup semi-final against an all-white-clad Real Madrid in April 1957, manager Matt Busby decided to go one step further and switch the shorts too. The new items featured a silver stripe down the side.


To get an idea of what it would look like, United wore the all-red kit against Bolton Wanderers under lights at Old Trafford on March 25, 1957 and Busby was even able to convince Bolton to switch to white shorts to resemble Real.

United actually lost that game 2-0 and would go down 3-1 in Madrid. For the home leg against Real, the red shorts remained and a thrilling 2-2 draw was played out, they went out on aggregate.

The retained their league title  (defeat to Aston Villa in the FA Cup final denied them the double) but for European games the following, ill-fated, 57-58 season the only change to the normal kit was that the white shorts featured a red stripe down the sides.

According to the ever-excellent, black shorts were used for the first time in the Charity Shield against Villa in October 1957 and they have long been the alternative when white cannot be used.

While red socks would be used as the first choice with the home kit in the 1960s and early 70s, they are almost never seen on any United kit now. The last instances we are aware of is on the rarely-worn 2000-01 third kit.

Thanks to Paul Nagel of for information provided.

Cork City’s 1993 black away kit gave league officials the blues



The start of the 1993-94 season signalled quite a change for Cork City in terms of kits, even by their standards.

Having worn green and white hoops from formation in 1984 until 1989, white shirts with green shorts were favoured for the next four years, taking in the 1993 League of Ireland Premier Division victory.

That league-winning kit would be worn in the early games of the 93-94 season but only as the new green, white and red home kit was being awaited. When it eventually arrived, most wished that the shorts had been forgotten, with the ‘pyjamas’ nickname soon coined.

Across their nine years of existence up until then, City’s away shirts had always been primarily red with white trim, but given that red featured on the new home, something completely new was needed for the new change shirt.

An all-black kit in the new adidas template, as used by Liverpool and popularised at the 1994 World Cup, was conjured up. A golden-yellow was used for the accents, meaning that the kit was a nod to Cork Celtic, one of City’s many antecedents. The fabric featured the City crest subtly repeated throughout.


Given that this was only a few months after Manchester United had released English football’s first all-black kit, this was quite the change. In The Cork Examiner of Friday, December 3, 1993, Noel Spillane reported that the kit’s first outing would be two days later at home to league leaders Shamrock Rovers.

It is this writer’s clear memory of being told that, as a result of City changing, Rovers would wear their famous green and white hoops, but instead they played in an awful purple kit as the game finished 2-2.

That wasn’t the end of the issue, however. While the Premier League had introduced green referees’ shirts in 1992, officials still wore black in the League of Ireland. For that City-Rovers game, blue shirts had been used. However, luck played a part in the league finding out about City’s black kit, as revealed by a piece in the Irish Independent on Tuesday, December 7.


(The arrow is pointing at a drumstick thrown at City goalscorer Pat Morley, something Rovers were to investigate)

Cork City’s controversial black strip has been given the red card by the National League.

Cork pulled the nylon over everyone’s eyes when they trotted out against Shamrock Rovers at Bishopstown on Sunday clad in black with gold trim – a throwback to Cork Celtic. Now, the champions have been told that they cannot play in their new strip against Drogheda United on Sunday.

Angry League secretary Eamonn Morris said last night: “We are most dissatisfied with Cork’s actions.

“They never even bothered to inform the league that they were going to change their strip. Their registered league colours are green and white so they had no right to change.

“A black strip is unacceptable to the league in that it clashes with the referee’s colours. I have been in touch with Cork and they say a letter of explanation is on the way to our officers. We will wait and see what they say before taking any further action.”

Only the quick thinking of Cork referee Pat Kelly averted embarrassment for match referee Oliver Cooney and his linesmen. Kelly spotted Cork’s new strip in The Cork Examiner last Friday and contacted Paddy Daly, the league’s chief inspector.

“This was the first I knew about it,” explained Daly. “I dashed off to O’Neills on Friday to get three jerseys made up that would not clash with the Cork colours.

“This is the first time I can recall that refs were forced to change from the customary black uniform. If Paddy Kelly hadn’t acted so quickly, Oliver Cooney and his linesmen would have gone to Cork with their black kit and it would have caused all sorts of confusion.

“We have 55 referees in the league panel and we have just finished a sponsorship with Dublin Bus. Does Cork’s new strip mean we have to pay out for 55 new sets of blue jerseys?”.

Shamrock Rovers knew nothing about Cork’s new gear either. They only brought their newly-registered away strip, purple jersey and shorts, to Bishopstown.

“With Cork in black, we could have played in green and white but the first we knew about their colours was just before kick-off,” explained club chairman John McNamara.

City would wear the ‘pyjamas’ at Drogheda the following week, winning 5-0, but some solution must have been reached as the black was worn for home games in December and then January 1994. While the green, white and red returned, the black remained the away kit until the end of the 1995-96 season.

Rugby: the world in union, 1986


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One of the books we received for Christmas was the autobiography of former Ireland rugby union team captain Donal Lenihan, My Life in Rugby.

Lenihan’s career as a player and a manager traversed many important milestones in the sport and he gives due consideration to these rather than just providing a slew of match reports.

In 1986, for example, Lenihan would have expected to have been included in the planned British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa, but the tour didn’t go ahead as global opposition to the Apartheid system in South Africa.

As a compromise of sorts the Lions did play one game that year, against a Rest of The World selection (consisting of players from Australia, France, New Zealand and, controversially, South Africa) at the Cardiff Arms Park on April 16 as part of the centenary celebrations of the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB, later IRB and now World Rugby).

In his book, Lenihan notes that, while the players chosen received Lions blazers, it isn’t considered an official Test match, whereas a 2005 game against Argentina at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is. Naturally, Lions’ classic kit – the red shirt representing Wales, white shorts (England) and navy socks (Scotland) with green tops (Ireland) – was worn.

Being kit-nerds, we wondered what ‘The Rest’ wore, and then our hearts were set positively racing when Lenihan mentioned a second centenary celebration game at Twickenham in London three days later. In this match, the countries which competed in the Five Nations would take on an ‘Overseas Unions’ side – effectively, the France players were switching sides from the Cardiff clash.

In the first game, ‘The Rest’ wore white jerseys – not representative of any of the countries, though the blue collar was presumably for France. The shorts were black (New Zealand’s colour) while the socks were green with gold turnovers (South Africa and Australia respectively). The crest was a map of the world in a rugby ball with laurel leaves and an inscription marking the occasion.

The Rest won that game 15-7 in the rain and the visiting side would also triumph in better conditions in London, 32-13 the final score.

In the latter tie, both sides would have the IRFB centenary crest on one-off jersey styles. While the programme cover acknowledged that the blue of Scotland was darker than that of France, The Five Nations’ jersey didn’t and – as on the Lions kit – the green of Ireland was once again under-represented (we’re not bitter, honestly).

The kit of the Overseas Unions perhaps prioritised Australia and New Zealand above South Africa, but as the Springboks were in an exile that lasted from 1985-91, that’s perhaps fair enough.

Midweek Mashup – Celtic, 1970



Don’t worry – Fantasy Kit Friday isn’t going anywhere, this is a new weekly series to complement it.

We’ve taken the ‘mashup’ term from our friends at Hull City Kits – basically, it means any kit which is worn with elements different to its default setting. While many of those featured across the series will be one-offs, it’s not a prerequisite that that is the case, just that the kit is memorable, for whatever reason.

We begin with a very notable example worn by Celtic against Leeds United in the 1969-70 European Cup semi-final first leg.


It’s not totally unknown for Celtic to wear their famous hooped shirts with alternative shorts or socks, but nowadays, they tend to prefer to wear a change kit when such clashes arise.

While West German referee Gerald Schulenberg had no problem with the Bhoys wearing green and white tops at Elland Road on April 1, he did insist that there be a change of socks (it’s interesting to note, though, that when AC Milan met Marseille at the quarter-final stage in 1991, their game at the San Siro saw both teams in white shorts and socks).

Celtic hadn’t travelled with any alternative socks (their away kit at the time was all-green) and there is a story that Leeds indulged in a bit of gamesmanship, offering them either red or blue, with the following quote ascribed to Celtic manager Jock Stein:

We’ll wear the red stockings. Under their floodlights, they’ll show up more orange than red and our supporters will think that we’re wearing the colours of the Irish tricolour. That’ll please them.

We certainly don’t recall Manchester United, Liverpool or Arsenal ever looking like they were wearing orange in old footage, and the Celtic Wiki states the socks were in fact orange, presumably taken from Leeds’ by-then-unworn third kit (featured here by John Devlin in a True Colours Kit Cupboard article, a series which is an ancestor of this).

There are further eye-witness accounts here confirming that they were orange. Certainly, they look orange in this picture of Celtic, compared with Leeds in the second leg, when the socks worn were definitely red.

We’ll defer to former Celtic player and manager David Hay. In his autobiography Quiet Assassin, he touches on how Leeds tried to build a fear-factor and mentions the sock situation too.

As he would have seen them in the dressing room before the game, without any perceived floodlight discolouration, his view has to be taken as definitive.

Leeds also had this hard-man image. Norman ‘Bites Yer Legs’ Hunter, for a start. What sort of nickname is that? And, sadder still, he seemed to revel in this juvenile, daft moniker. Do you think for a split second his reputation meant a thing to the likes of Bobby Murdoch or Bertie Auld? Or me, for that matter? Don’t get me wrong; Leeds United were a good team. Excellent, even. But they weren’t at the same level as us and we knew it. They, too, would soon come round to our way of thinking.

The off-the-field shenanigans went on right up until the kick-off. We were informed they had complained about our white socks to the referee. They were same colour as Leeds’, of course, but no-one made any mention of it until just before the start.

As our kit men hadn’t packed alternatives, we had to borrow orange socks from our opponents. If that, too, was designed to faze us in any way, shape or form, it was another error on their part. We could have played in our civvies that night and still won.

Celtic won the game 1-0 and then, at Hampden Park a fortnight later, beat a red-socked Leeds 2-1 to advance to the final. Sadly for them, they would be denied a second title in four years as Feyenoord beat them 2-1 in the final after extra time.

Problems at Southampton for Liverpool’s 1993-96 third kit



On the newest instalment of the Design Football podcast, presenter Jay and his guest, John Devlin from True Colours, discuss the new Southampton third kit which was worn at Bournemouth.

It’s something that we certainly enjoy, we must admit, teams being forced to hastily roll out a third kit and this is a classic example, with the obligatory line about how it wouldn’t be sold to the public. They recalled how there had been similar noises made when Liverpool brought out their third kit in December 1993, first wearing it away to Sheffield United on Boxing Day.

The Pool programme for the game against Manchester City in January 1994 confirmed that the plan wasn’t to release it (pic taken from


However, on the pod, Jay and John made the very pertinent point that the kit was too bespoke to have been an emergency run, as most rush-job examples we see are teamwear. As things transpired, it was put on sale and became quite popular.

As the programme article mentioned, the kit was worn again in the game away to Southampton, featuring both a shorts- and socks-clash.

It was also worn in the game away to Arsenal in March and was retained for the 1994-95 season, too. With Sheffield United having been relegated, there were only two outings in the league (and a pre-season friendly at Bolton Wanderers).

The trip to Southampton came at the end of August and Martin Bodenham, who had no problem wearing a similar kit to Aston Villa, sought a change of socks. With Liverpool not having any others available, they took to the field wearing Southampton’s alternative home set, which were mainly used by their goalkeeper, former Liverpool netminder Bruce Grobbelaar.

It probably seems unthinkable now, but the gold and black kit remained in use for 1995-96, its third season. Only in its final game, at Arsenal in May, would it be worn in its proper iteration, however.

One could strongly argue, in our view, that the green-and-white-quartered away shirt launched in the summer of 1995, provided enough differentiation against red and white stripes, but then our views on clashes are often overlooked.


Liverpool were drawn with Sunderland in the second round of the Coca-Cola Cup, the away leg taking place on October 4, and later that month they would make the trip to The Dell. While both the Mackems and the Saints had red and white socks, they both had their usual black shorts. It could have been the case that shorts clashes had to be dealt with in the league cup, but for the Southampton game, Liverpool were also forced to change.

With no gold sets produced, the solution – if it can be called that – was to wear the dark green away pairs.


The following season, Liverpool had swapped adidas for Reebok, who supplied them with a cream-coloured away kit (don’t comment saying that it was actually called ‘ecru’; we know, but we choose to ignore). This was allowed to be worn, with change shorts, at both Southampton and Sunderland, and the world continued to turn.


Fantasy Kit Friday 2016 – a look back


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Hopefully, you’re aware of Fantasy Kit Friday, our weekly attempt to dress a team up in a historical style different to that which they actually wore. Tomorrow, December 30, will be the final instalment of the year, so we felt it an apposite time to collate all of the offerings together.

While the concept of a weekly edition only manifested itself this year, the idea itself is actually just over two years old, as we road-tested it with four Irish Gaelic games teams in classic adidas:


They got a fairly good response, albeit to a limited audience, but other things got in the way of it becoming a regular feature. Even when we gave it a name in April, it was still ad hoc – though, unoriginally, the template was becoming fixed:

It would be nearly a month before another attempt:

We were getting some ‘engagement’, as the digital marketing bods call it, but there was an inherent fear that our adidas bias was unhealthy. We threw it out to the floor, though, and the first request for the now-hashtagged #fantasykitfriday was still from Herzogenrauch, though of a later vintage.

Another break of more than a month ensued – we were learning how to draw on Adobe Illustrator – but this one kick-started a regular weekly flow of higher-quality renderings.

Where possible, we liked to be topical:

And then, occasionally, surreality prevailed (there was a break of a week due to holidays).

At the end of July, work took us to Leeds for a few days, so inspiration was taken from that.

Some of our favourite kits have been the ones that you know could never have happened but still look great.

There’s always time to return to the classic look.

Other times, we feel generous enough to give a two-for-one.

Request are accommodated as much as possible, as it saves us having to think.

For September 9, we conferred with our old sparring partner Andrew Rockall, a massive Tottenham Hotspur fan, to come with a whole suite of Spurs kits and we published them all here. If you can’t be bothered to check, this was the home:


Some kits can meet opposition from traditionalists…

…and others that you might be unsure about turn out to be well-received.

It’s often fun to use a team’s current (or, in this case, soon-to-be-former) maker and go back to before they had them.

And there are others that are very out there.

This one worked a lot better in our heads than on the screen, sadly.

If we had time, every week would feature a home, away and third as well as goalkeeper kits. Unfortunately, we don’t, but it does make these ones more enjoyable.

As far as we can see, this is the only instance of a team’s own home kit being recoloured.

Looking at these again, one almost has to do a double-take and remember that City didn’t actually have Hummel.

Their rivals switched to Umbro in 1992, but might have looked like this if they did it sooner.

Just after drawing this, we were very pleased with it. Until it was pointed out that Germany’s leisurewear in 1996 was just like this, so that’s probably where the idea subliminally came from.

Another request, more on which you can read about at the wonderful Hull City Kits.

The bias is very much towards the past, so it’s no harm to mix it up every once in a while.

And it’s not all top teams we do either. Any suggestion will be considered.

Collaborate with a friend for an idea, if you want.

But be warned, we can be selfish when we want.

Edit: For completeness, here is the final one:

Liverpool v Aston Villa, 1993 – an impromptu referee kit-change


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When the Premier League began in 1992, one of the notable new initiatives was the change to referees’ kits.

Whereas black had been used by officials for as long as anybody could remember, now green shirts with black pinstripes were favoured, with the shorts reversing the design. It was used from 1992-93 until the end of 1995-96:


One side-effect was that goalkeepers, who had used green for so long, were now forced into a variety of different hues:

While referees did take precedence over goalkeepers, they remained below outfielders in the shirt-preference priority list. As a result, a traditional black shirt (the opposite of the new green) was kept in reserve for games when Liverpool wore their green away.


In the summer of 1993, Aston Villa switched from Umbro to Asics, and their new away featured green and black stripes, outlined in red.


Away to Arsenal on November 6, that kit was worn with the referee, Martin Bodenham, was in the normal kit. Distinguishable, but not ideal (one might also argue that Mark Bosnich’s kit could provide more differentiation to, but it was the 90s).


Three weeks later, Villa travelled to Anfield to face Liverpool. They went into the game unbeaten away from home, but found themselves on the back foot early on. As The Times put it:

Liverpool had started brightly, but by the half-hour mark there were mutters of discontent from the main stand and Graeme Souness, the Liverpool manager, was moved to diversionary tactics, complaining that the referee’s shirt clashed with Villa’s change strip.

We’re not sure if referee Alan Wilkie had a black shirt with him, but even if he did, it’s arguable that the was as much of a clash with the Villa strip as the green one. A temporary compromise was that he was given a white jumper, bearing the USA 94 logo, and wore it inside-out for the rest of the first half. The game was shown live on Sky Sports – which is why it’s so frustrating that there is just one clip – of less than 90 seconds – on YouTube, so you’ll have to trust us on the finer details.


Both of Wilkie’s linesmen (as we could still call them back then) remained in green, but for the second half all three were in white short-sleeved t-shirts.


If, for some reason, you have the full recording at home, please don’t hesitate to get in touch to help us provide some clearer images. As far as we can ascertain, Villa’s away kit wasn’t considered problematic at any stage over the rest of its lifespan – at Anfield in 94-95, for instance, it was worn along with the normal referee’s kit, though by that stage Roy Evans had replaced Souness as the Liverpool manager.

The evolution of adidas goalkeeper shirt designs – Part 5


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The usual refresher course – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Incredibly, adidas produced nine different designs for the countries it supplied at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, so we have split the offerings into two different posts, with four here (covering seven countries) and the others to follow.

Italia 90 was the first time the Republic of Ireland reached the World Cup finals and it was a famous summer for the country – in years to come, social commentators would draw a link between Jack Charlton’s side reached the quarter-finals and a subsequent improvement in the economy. This gives some indication of how the whole thing captured the national imagination:

Ireland reached the last eight by beating Romania in a penalty shootout, with Packie Bonner’s save from Daniel Timofte allowing David O’Leary to score the winner.

Bonner was clad in an unfamiliar grey that day as his normal shirt – a plain yellow, similar to his one at Euro 88 but featuring the same fabric pattern as the outfield shirt – clashed with the Romanians. The grey differed in that there was no pattern and the three stripes only went from shoulder to cuff. The slightly mismatching socks meant that each element of the kits had three stripes in differing colours.

A nice design which was common at this World Cup saw use by five different nations, in six different colourways. The lower part of the body and sleeves featured contrasting panels, with a third colour then used for the collar and cuffs. Belgium goalkeeper Michel Preud’homme wore two versions, with unique padded shorts:

The only colour-scheme which was repeated was used by Sweden’s Thomas Ravelli and Thomas N’Kono of Cameroon, who was also seen in blue and grey. Like Preud’homme’s, Ravelli’s shirt had an extra adidas trefoil.

The remaining two examples worn in Italy (we specify ‘worn’ as there was a black and yellow Yugoslavia shirt but their goalkeeper Tomislav Ivković preferred to play in Uhlsport shirts with the adidas logo affixed) were by players who didn’t start the competition as first-choice.

While Rinat Dasayev of the USSR wore one of the styles featured in Part 6, when he was dropped, his replacement Aleksandr Uvarov opted for a black and grey edition of this design.

Nery Pumpido, a veteran of Argentina’s 1986 win, had worn a unique style in the opening loss to Cameroon and then broke his leg in their game against the Soviet Union. His purple and shirt had a crest but oddly substitute Sergio Goycochea’s didn’t.

Come the knockout stages – all the way through the final, encompassing penalty-shootout heroics against Italy in the semis – Goycochea would have a new look, not unlike a computer game (he wore the same socks as his team-mates, so the blue were used in the final against West Germany).


Also with a look sported by nobody else was the Netherlands’ Hans van Breukelen, whose shirts featured a kind of checkered look and an anachronistic large flappy collar, while the white shorts and socks set him apart from practically everyone else.

Though the clear part in the middle might point towards consideration for a sponsor’s logo if used by a club team, we have no evidence of the design being worn by anyone else.