Clash of the Shorts

OK, sorry for the lame title but what is going on with shorts clashes in the Premier League at the moment?! Always a favourite topic of conversation on the site, the increase in clashing shorts has increased dramtically in 09-10. I’ve counted 16 in total (listed below).

3 October:  Bolton vs Spurs,  Burnley vs Birmingham, Man Utd vs Sunderland
27 September:  Sunderland vs Wolves
28 September:  Man City vs West Ham
20 September:  Man Utd vs Man City,  Wolves vs Fulham,  Chelsea vs Spurs
12 September:  Man City vs Arsenal
29 August:  Blackburn vs West Ham
22 August: Arsenal vs Portsmouth, Hull vs Bolton
15 August:  Bolton vs Sunderland,  Everton vs Arsenal
16 August:  Manchester Utd vs Birmingham
19 August: Hull vs Tottenham

Even the Manchester derby saw both teams wearing white shorts. It looks like only Aston Villa, Man Utd and Everton are bothering with change shorts this season. Its really odd that after years of teams ensuring there are no clashes on any part of the kit all of sudden the rules have been relaxed.

Perhaps the colour clash focus is now more on socks? I understand from a ref’s point of view this is more important when it comes to vital decisions.

If anyones got any theories please let me know!

67 Replies to “Clash of the Shorts

  1. I was wondering if a blog like this would come up after the amount of shorts clashes already this season, it is quite surprising considering just a few years ago we even seen teams wear change shorts even if there wasn’t a clash.

    I’ve noticed the Umbro-sponsored teams have been involved in a number of shorts clashes so far, which is strange considering they tended to produce a pair of change shorts for almost each kit in the hamper. I know the socks is a more important thing but there have been a few cases of teams changing socks unnecessarily, like Birmingham have done twice already this season.

    I do know that in the past, going back to before my time, shorts clashes were rather common, even sock clashes occured, more surprising when in those days the goalkeepers used to wear the same shorts and socks as the rest of the team.

    Seeing Arsenal wear their home kit at teams wearing white shorts is a rare oddity too, considering they would always change into their away kit! Curiously enough Blackburn today decided to wear their navy third kit at Arsenal, when a pair of blue change shorts (as used in the past) would have been more logical.

  2. As a Level 5 referee I have never worried about a clash of shorts. Did anyone ever change prior to Clough’s Forest in the late Seventies? Everton followed suit soon after I recall.

  3. In a world of HD TV and flashy kits, it is actually irrelevant whether two teams have the same colour of shorts. Shorts is not as important as socks as far as clashes are concerned. If one team plays in all white and the other in dark shirts and socks with white shorts, I see no problem. The problem for me is clashes of blue with black and claret with blue which is a little bit disturbing especially on TV. And the most stupid away kit this season is Chelsea’s. Also striped shirts (including white) with white which on TV is also disturbing.
    Everton, Villa and Burnley continue to change their shorts based on tradition I think!

  4. I don’t know why teams must change the shorts to avoid colour clashing. In Spain, teams cannot wear the same colour of shorts. And as a result of that stupid rule, Atletico de Madrid seems Belgrado’s Red Star each time that plays against Barcelona, Espanyol, Deportivo, Zaragoza… Red/white stripped shirt and red shorts, instead of our traditional blue ones.

  5. Are you sure about Jose, when Barcelona play away to Atletico they wear their normal blue shorts, and have even played Deportivo with both sides in their home kits.

    [url=Atletico v Barcelona][/url]
    [url=Deportivo v Barcelona][/url]
    [url=Barcelona v Espanyol][/url]

  6. You’re right, Denis. Barcelona and Deportivo don’t use to change shorts. I don’t know why Atletico change their shorts to red when play Barcelona or Deportivo, if there is no rule about it. They have always played them with their traditional colours. It must not be a marketing reason, because the red shorts are not available in the Atletico’s shop.

  7. Actually Blackburn’s home kit this season has blue socks, thus a clash of socks wouldn’t have been the reason for changing to navy for the Arsenal match. It must have been to do with the clash of shorts, so they end up what I call “doing an Arsenal”, at Arsenal!

    I have seen Barça in red shorts before, but I don’t get any points for that as their kit in 05/06 did in fact have red shorts instead of blue (which looked a bit strange to be honest)!

  8. Arsenal don’t seem to be “doing an Arsenal” much anymore Jon, though I presume that has more to do with the fact that the current home has ver little white on the shirt!

    Re Arsenal changing shorts on their home kit, believe it or not they did do it for a time in the 70s

  9. I’ve never understood why Arsenal changed to their away kit at Bolton but never against Spurs at White Hart Lane.

  10. I suppose it’s just because rivals rarely change, though True Colours 1 said that they did once in the mid-80s

  11. What I don’t understand though is if Rob Styles thought West Ham’s away kit of Sky Blue was too similar to Villa’s sleeves and made Villa change why hasn’t it been an issue for Arsenal either at home or away. Spurs don’t change at the Effiminates or previously at the Dubiabury

  12. It is a bit odd as to why Arsenal often changed when playing at the likes of Bolton but didn’t against Spurs – whether its to do with tradition, I’m not sure.

    Some claim the change is necessary due to linesmen not being able to distinguish the white sleeves and some say its all down to television. Now I’m not being funny but years ago it wasn’t a problem for linesmen, and television pictures were much harder to distinguish from than they are now. Bit like UEFA’s numbers thing and FIFA seemingly being insistent on one-colour kits (as seen in World Cup 2006) – nitpicking and may I say, nonsense.

    Anyhow its not as if Bolton are innocent of doing the same thing when playing at Arsenal – they had done every season since their return to the Premier League, apart from last season all because their home kit had reverted to using navy shorts.

    Along similar lines, it’s a bit like Leeds in the past, where they often wore their away kit just because the home team had white shorts. I suppose I should have called it “doing a Leeds” rather than “doing an Arsenal”. They often wore yellow when playing at the likes of Arsenal (ironically), Everton, and so on, yet for some strange reason they hardly ever changed kit when playing at Newcastle.

    On the subject of Newcastle they’re another team for strange kit habits – no I’m not going on about that awful away kit they have this season again, but why they would change kit when playing at Sheffield Wednesday, but never at QPR or Blackburn, in spite of them also wearing blue and white (albeit arranged differently)?

  13. I can recall in 93-94 Newcastle wore white shorts and socks away to Wimbledon, who, theoretically, would have provided the biggest clash with Newcastle’s home kit.

  14. As Jon says Newcastle are an interesting case. For years and years they have worn their home striped shirts, but last year they wore that insipid Pale Blue strip.

    Most of their kits over the years have had marginally more black than white and they often wore their home kit against teams with pedominantly white shirts. This year that shouldn’t be the case as the backs are white with a black number.

    Did anyone see the goals from the Bury v Tranmere game in the Football League Trophy? Tranmere wore their gold away kit (even though no change was necessary) and their keeper was in Yellow. Bury were in Brown and Pale Blue, what their keper wear? Sky Blue! What are the ref’s doing these days? Maybe they look moire similar on TV than up close and personal but Surely Green and Black would have made everybodies lives easier?

  15. I think Tranmere wore their away kit as they probably forgot Bury are not wearing their usual white at home for this season, with the Shakers wearing chocolate and blue for their 125th anniversary. However I totally agree about the goalies’ choice of kits, the referee should have applied the letter of the law, even more crazy that Bury’s keeper was wearing a colour which featured prominently on the home kit!

    Still one of the worst goalie jersey clashes I saw was when Millwall were playing a match live on television a few years ago, when they wore their away kit which was almost like amber (like a “maize yellow” colour), with navy shorts, yet the keeper wore a yellow shirt with black shorts. How the referee that day or indeed Millwall’s kit man didn’t realise that I really don’t know.

    I used to remember a time when all keepers, except Plymouth Argyle’s, used to wear a green shirt. Certainly didn’t have clash issues then though!

  16. You will remember that Scotland changed their shorts for the 1978 World Cup matches with Iran and Peru. In fact Scotland have never won a match at the World Cup finals where they have worn navy blue shorts (including all three in 1986 where our first choice shorts were one third navy blue)

  17. England wore navy change shorts against Ukraine at the weekend (instead of the now first-choice white), even though Ukraine were in yellow shorts. Does the one time in light shorts / one team in dark shorts rule still apply in internationals?

  18. I’ve just remembered two shorts clashes from the 94 World Cup, caused by sides changing from non-clashing shorts.

    When Mexico played Ireland in the group stages, Ireland wore their white away shirts and socks with the home white shorts, even though Mexico’s shorts were white.

    Then in the second round Bulgaria played Mexico and changed from their normal green shorts to white also.

    I can only assume that this was to alleviate the ‘overall clash’, which would have worsened had Ireland or Bulgaria wore green shorts

  19. Good point AJ – why did England change (I have to say I prefer seeing that shirt with white shorts now) – surely UEFA/FIFA aren’t accommodating people with black and white TVs still!!

    Denis, you’re probably right about that game. Green can be problematic (grass colour etc) and perhaps they thought the mix and match of green and white with both teams may be too much.

    Flicktokick – yes its funny, there were the only times I remember Scotland wearing navy change shorts. Don’t mention the 86 shorts though!!

  20. Shorts clashes are never consistently dealt with for some reaso. Both terams wore dark shorts when England were away to Albania in 00/01 but england changed for the other qualifiers including the HOME matches vs Greece and the Paraguay friendly. Spurs and newcastle threw and interesting shorts clash in the 90’s. From 97 to 99 both terams kept the same home kits. In 97/8 Toon went the spurs with home kit and white shorts. There was a terrible clash. The next season, with the same kits, Toon kept with the black shorts and there was no problem. Perhaps because one team had mainly white and the other mainly black, it clashed less in 98/99?

  21. To add to that Philip, in 1999-2000, Spurs wore their yellow away kit at St James’ Park while in 00-01, with both teams having the same homes as the previous season, Spurs wore white shirts and shorts, as their new away was navy

  22. Not one bit good, heard a radio commentator describe them as khaki!

    With Arsenal having an all-dark away kit it’ll be interesting to see if they change shorts at the Stadium of Light or just socks as they did at Old Trafford.

    As an aside, they wore white socks in that game, which a) didn’t look good with the rest of the kit as white doesn’t feature that much on it, and b) meant that all three of Arsenal’s kits this season have unique white socks!

  23. Liverpool’s change shorts today resembled a pair of white shorts that had been washed with tea bags rather than washing powder! Along wit the gold socks it did make for a strange looking kit, almost as strange as the goal they conceded.

    It’s a bit like the last time Liverpool had a black away kit, the Reebok kit of 02/03…… black shirts, GREY SHORTS, and the time they played at Sunderland that season they even wore grey socks.

    Maybe black, or “phantom” as described in some of the adidas catalogues (I’d stick my neck out and describe it as “charcoal” or black washed too many times that it’s faded!) doesn’t suit Liverpool after all.

  24. Come to think of it after posting that comment above, Liverpool did wear a black kit at Sunderland just a couple of seasons ago (07/08). That day they wore the black third shirt and combined it with white shorts and white socks – which looked far better than combined with grey or gold pairs that’s for sure!

  25. I’m glad I’m not the only one who felt Liverpool’s shirts weren’t quite right. Thing is, with all the indifference to shorts clashes (ie Arsenal/Birmingham yesterday) why did they even bother?

  26. Arsenal never used to bother with shorts and socks at all in the 90’s and early 00’s. In 00/1 they wore yellow with dark navy shorts and socks at Sunderland who had black shorts and socks and it never really clashed. However, in 01/2 Sunderland had the same kit and Arsenal’s gold kit had white socks added, and not the home ones if I remember correctly.

  27. I thought they were the home socks in 01/02?

    I know that in 00/01 they wore yellow socks away to Man U, but other years, such as 01/02 and 02/03, when they had navy away socks, there was either no change or United did.

    One other point though – the ‘bruised banana’ kit was worn with yellow shorts at The Dell

  28. You’re right about the bruised banana shorts – apart from the mid-70s red shorts that was one of the, if not the only, time Arsenal have worn an official pair of change shorts.

  29. I remember in 02/03 Arsenal played at Roma in the Champions League and wore the home shorts and socks with the navy away shirt (Roma had a different kit in the competition – maroon/amber shirt with black shorts and socks), and yet, at Sunderland later that season they wore all-navy.

    Oh and in my opinion that “bruised banana” kit of 91-93 looked even worse with yellow shorts!!

  30. Come to think of it, Chelsea and Liverpool are two teams who you don’t see wearing change shorts with their home kit these days, and even in the very rare occurence that the home team’s shorts have clashed, they’ve “done an Arsenal”. I remember Liverpool wore white at Watford a few seasons ago, and one time before that even wore white at Portsmouth because of a clash of socks!

    Yet it is well know that both clubs used to wear white shorts until 1964, when matching shirts and shorts seemed to become the fashion at the time. And there were a couple of cases I can recall in the 80’s, Liverpool wearing red-black-yellow at Watford, and I’m very sure I saw Chelsea wear white change shorts with blue and silver trim in the 87/88 season.

    Ironically, on mentioning those two clubs, I can’t forget that time Chelsea went to Anfield at the start of the 03/04 season and wore their white away kit for no apparent reason.

  31. That was just to sell jerseys I’d say!

    Re Chelsea, yes I can remember in the 90s, Spurs would wear white shorts at Stamford Bridge but Chelsea never did at the Lane, though in 1978 they wore yellow there.

    At the opposite end of the shorts-changing scale, in 07-08 Man Utd had an all-black away kit but away to Middlesbrough wore white shorts and socks, as if to suggest the black clashed, so wouldn’t the jersey too by that (lack of) logic?

  32. United did exactly the same yesterday at Anfield, wearing white change shorts and socks witht their black shirts.

    This also now means that, across their home and away kits, they have four pairs of shorts and socks, but in only colours (white and black) with only two trims (red and blue).

  33. What really annoys me is that Fifa only allows one team to wear white in their competitions, so therefore you’ll see these unusual kit combinations, like in the last world cup where Italy and Japan were in all blue instead of their preferred white shorts, or when Brazil were force to wear white shorts with their yellow tops(uggh!) Now all you ever see in Fifa competitions is one team is in all white and the other is in solids. Hopefully they’ll change this in the future to what it was before where both teams were able to wear white.

  34. That Man Utd shorts/socks situation is crazy. I see they’ve been favouring white shorts and socks more and more with the away shirt. I guess its mainly for night matches where it seems Fergie has a thing about the clearer visibility of white rather than black. Weird one though – maybe it’ll bring an end to the glut of black kits!

  35. And not to forget that the white away kit from last season is still there as third kit, featuring another white pair of shorts with blue trim!

  36. the black united shirt is awful and looks worse with white shorts and socks,the visibility thing doesnt wash with me…might as well go the whole hog and wear all white with white boots!!! nice to see England wear navy shorts again though.

  37. i’ve noticed that the home goalkeeper shirt hasnt been worn yet by any Man.United keeper and its the only shirt that actually resembles the 1909 cup final shirt that the ‘chevron’ range is supposed to be modelled on!!(white with red V)

  38. Yes, I’ve noticed that too john, and there have been plenty of opportunities to do so against non-white teams, seems quite odd, unless the goalkeepers themselves don’t want to wear it or something

  39. Fewer and fewer caring for a shorts clash when these days sometimes even a shirt clash is not taken care of. But i do. Atleast the teams wearing white shorts should have change shorts because white is common shorts clash. And if they dont want to, for that matter of fact, they can wear the shorts of the away or third kits along with home shirts.

  40. that’s strange abt the home goalkeeper jersey of man united which hasn’t been worn yet. It looks nice and it should be worn on matches in which the away team is not wearing white and the away keeper kit should be the yellow with black chevron. The blue with black chevron keeper jersey can be be worn on certain occasions.

  41. Your problem John Devlin is that you are even taking the shorts combination of Navy and Black to be a clash. Well, you might consider it a clash but the kit rules only require the Shirt and Socks clashes to be avoided, not the shorts. If any team changes their shorts, that means they are doing that for the convenience of the players, not because of any rules. Take care

  42. Can the outfield socks clash?

    I’ve always assumed not, but I went to Birmingham-Bristol City last season and both teams wore white socks.

    john b, the white/home Man United goalkeeper kit has been worn this season – in the Burnley game at Turf Moor.

    But yeah, I’m not sure why they don’t seem to want to wear that one and prefer the aqua and (seemingly unofficial) yellow…

  43. There is one interesting thing about the Champions League Group D this season. All four teams have their original shorts colour as Blue. Chelsea- Blue Shirt with Blue Shorts, Porto- Blue and White shirt with Blue Shorts, At Madrid- Red and White shirt with Blue shorts and APOEL FC- Yellow shirt with blue shorts. Quite Interesting. Although Atletico Madrid have only worn their red shorts to avoid Shorts Clashes even at home.

  44. cheers aj,i was trying too forget that game!! and United wore black shorts at pompey on saturday to avoid a clash i see.

  45. Hello Suhird, in my experience navy and black is always considered a clash in both shorts and socks (as well as shirts of course). You are right it seems to be the case that shorts is purely down to the club’s discretion and that it is just shirts and socks that there are rules about. Which makes AJ’s comment about the Birmingham/Bristol City match last season odd – it must have just been a mistake in that game.

    Its weird how cup groupings can sometimes have the same colours – I remember at Euro 2008 one group just seemed to have red and white!

  46. I respect you John Devlin because this the only thread i have found abt this shorts and changing etc. which actually interests me, but a clash is not defined. The other day saw Stoke city in red and white shirts against Wigan athletic in orange shirts. It was difficult to spot the players, but a clash is not defined. It depends on the referee. RSVP

  47. Another thing i wanted to say is that Man Utd wore white shorts and socks against liverpool with their black away shirts because they would have got a pair of white shorts made by their kit manufacturers (nike) to avoid a kit clash, supposedly against sunderland in the Stadium of light. But it would be stupid to get them made for only one match in the whole season, so they must be wearing the white shorts with their away kit whenever they play a team which has a clash with their home jersey but not with white shorts.


  48. Hello Suhird, that Stoke/Wigan game was ridiculous! Orange clearly clashes with red in my book (as does claret of course).

    Interesting point about Utd at Anfield but I don’t think that it would be a problem to wear white shorts for just one game though. I have heard from a very reliable source that Utd (under Gary Neville’s instructions!) always like to wear all-white at Anfield so I was surprised to see them in the black shirt to be honest.

    Glad you’re enjoying the thread! Seems to have got people talking.

  49. Hello John, I saw that match (Stoke vs Wigan) and it was distingiushable easily. So that is why i said that a clash is not defined.

  50. These are the Premier League rules for kit clashes for last season:

    F.21 Subject to Rules F.20 and F.22, when playing in League Matches the Players of each
    participating Club shall wear its home Strip unless the home Strips of the participating Clubs
    are alike or similar or are in the opinion of the referee likely to cause confusion in which event
    Players of the Visiting Club shall wear its away Strip, third Strip or a combination of its home
    Strip, away Strip and its third Strip. In the event of any dispute with regard to the Strip to be
    worn by either Club, the referee’s decision shall be final.

    F.22 Players of the Visiting Club may wear its away Strip or third Strip when playing in League
    Matches provided that they shall not do so on more than 8 occasions in any Season, including
    those occasions, if any, when required to do so by virtue of the foregoing provisions of Rule
    F.21. For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Rule shall limit the number of occasions a
    Club may be required to change its Strip pursuant to Rule F.21.

    It is up to the match officials to decide, though, and there seems to e some inconsitencu. Clashing shorts seem to be OK in the PL but not socks. In the FL, officials seem to insist on changes to both shorts and socks when there’s a clash.

    The wording of F.22 is strange, though, as the last sentence contradicts the first.

  51. The English Premier League is the only league in the world that allows teams in a match to wear the same colour shorts

  52. Pat, technically the SPL counts as a Football League and I would say short clashes are never an issue up there.

    Rarely is there a game without a clash. 7 of the 12 sides have white shorts!

  53. Regarding Manchester United wearing white socks instead of black for European games (as mentioned earlier in the thread) it began in the 1997/98 season when Umbro produced a special Champions League kit which was markedly different to the strip United wore in domestic games. For some reason it had white socks rather than the usual black, presumably to set it apart from the normal kit.

    The following season (98/99) United again wore the Champions League kit and this time they won the European Cup. The normal shelf-life of a kit at the time was two seasons, so it was unusual that United wore the kit for a third straight season in 1999/00 (not sure but I think the kit was marketed as “commemorative” after the previous season’s Champions League triumph, and had another star above the badge.)

    The kit did not return the following season, nor was another Champions League-specific kit ever commissioned, but the (peculiar) tradition of wearing white socks with their home kit in European games has remained.

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