Every year, mass media organizations such as Sky Sports, the BBC and The Guardian are scooped by a small band of football bloggers who leak photographs of new, never seen before football kits sometimes months before they’re officially unveiled to the public.
The race to be the first to post these rare pictures has become an annual ritual for websites such as Football Shirt Culture and Football Shirts. Some of the pictures are leaked by people working in the factories, while others are covertly leaked by the kit manufacturers to create a pent-up demand and to encourage websites to publish the pictures.
If you’ve read any of the posts that feature leaked pictures of the new football shirts, you’ll notice a trend. Some fans love the new shirts. Some fans hate them, while others claim that the shirts are fake — either a bad Photoshop creation or some fan playing tricks.
A recent example was the leaked picture of Manchester City’s home shirt. Many Man City fans were convinced that either Nike or Canterbury were going to be the new manufacturers, and that the design couldn’t be real. Even I was tricked too because the JJB Sports website claimed that Canterbury were the kit manufacturers, until they corrected their mistake.
Sure enough, a few days later, Manchester City unveiled their new home strip and it was the exact same design that had been leaked days earlier.
This year more than any other, the accuracy of these leaked pictures has improved. Portsmouth’s home shirt was leaked in May. Man United’s new away shirt was leaked in April. Liverpool’s new home, away and third shirts were leaked in March. Not to be outdone by their rivals, the home and away shirts for Arsenal were leaked in March. That same month, a picture of Chelsea’s new home shirt was leaked too.
More often that not, the photographs leaked by sites are valid and published months prior to the official unveiling of the shirts. So when you read football fans claiming that a leaked picture is fake, consider the track record of that site. It may actually be the real thing.