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Why are Leeds United football shirts white?

This article reveals why Leeds United United AFC wear an all-white kit. It also investigates how Leeds was the first club to sell replica football kits.

All-white kits

Upon his appointment as player-manager of Leeds United Football Club in 1961, Don Revie began to implement radical changes. The most significant of these was his insistence that the club play their home games in an all-white kit imitating that of the all-conquering Real Madrid side of the time. Though initially branded as a gimmick by critics, future England manager Revie’s new design was intended to signify the drawing of a line under the relatively unsuccessful years of the debt-ridden West Yorkshire club. A significantly superstitious man, Revie famously wore his ‘lucky’ blue suit throughout the majority of his tenure and believed that the switch to the all-white kits sported by Ferenc Puskas and Alfredo Di Stefano would instil confidence and belief into his players. He claimed at the time that United would become “like Real Madrid, feared by everyone, challenging for everything.” Until that time the Elland Road club had played in a variety of strips since entering the football league in 1905, though almost all of these had revolved around a combination of dark blue and gold (or yellow depending on production costs). Leeds player at the time of the switch Jack Charlton would later claim that the move was motivated more by the fact that Revie believed that players wearing white were easier to pick out quickly than those in any other colour.

Replica shirt deal

Don Revie’s Leeds United was also the first club to sign a manufacturing deal with a sports company that would allow for replica shirts to be printed for fans. The ground breaking £15,000 deal that Revie signed with Admiral in 1973, laid the foundations for the multi-million pound replica shirt industry that exists today. On the back of this deal, and to maximise sales, Leeds United became the first club to consistently wear a changed-colour official football kit for away games, rather than just when a clash occurred as was the norm at the time. When he became England national team manager in 1974, Don Revie also instigated a similar deal with Admiral for replica England shirts. Though the current replica kit industry is worth millions, there appears to be a trend within fans towards retro football tops. The 1978 Leeds United shirt is one of Score Draw’s top sellers and shows how kit manufacturers began to add flourishes to the collar and sleeves to produce shirts that were sufficiently different to those of previous years. Of course, the Real Madrid-style all-white remains customary of Leeds United home kits.

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