Leeds United Shirt History
Leeds United have won the English First Division three times, with their most recent title coming in 1992. Historically, the Yorkshire club is one of the largest clubs that the country has seen, so let’s explore their kit manufacturer and shirt sponsor history.
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Leeds Shirt History - Printable Checklist
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Leeds United Kit Manufacturer
2020 – present – Adidas
In 2020, Adidas and Leeds agreed a five-year-deal and this is the first contract that the pair has had together. In their first campaign, Adidas took inspiration from the clubs 1994 to 1996 third kit and reproduced a modern version of the infamous blue and green striped strip. All Adidas branding on this shirt was gold, including the three stripes running on the shoulders. As far as first impressions go, I would say this was a solid start.
Moving on to 2022/23, where Adidas made somewhat of a statement with a V-neck yellow and blue tie dye jersey. It was worn on their travels as their away shirt and it saw the classic yellow and blue associated with the Whites reimagined.
Another nickname that Leeds are perhaps less commonly known by is ‘the Peacocks’ and there are some rumours that this originated from a pub close to Elland Road known as The Old Peacock. The club also once featured a peacock on their club crest. You now might be asking yourself why you’re reading this…well this is because the whole 2023/24 collection stems from the club’s historic use of the bird.
Two of the Adidas stripes on the home shirts shoulders are blue, while the other is yellow. This looks really smart on the traditionally coloured white base. So, where does the peacock come into it? In the background of the strip there is a custom peacock pattern debossed throughout the fabric. A peacock is also printed on the back of the neck. To pay homage even further, the 2023/24 away jersey is peacock print on the front and it has a plain navy blue back with the clubs crest from the 80’s stapled just below the backs neckline.
The third shirt also follows suit in the peacock tribute, but its design is even wilder. Wilder than peacock print? Yep, Adidas managed it. Leeds have described it as a shirt that ‘removes the shackles and allows you to express yourself’ and with its rose-pink patterning splattered across a mild orange base, it certainly does this. The strip also has a navy-blue neckline, sleeve cuffs and side panels. Again, albeit slightly different to the home and away, the patterning on the front also takes inspiration from a peacock and the bird is again printed on the shirts back by the neckline.
2015 – 2020 – Kappa
When this deal was signed, it was one that excited Leeds’ former Italian Chairman Massimo Cellino. A quote from Cellino during the partnership announcement article read “Kappa’s kits have been iconic in Italy for a long, long time and we are hoping to recreate that here in England.”
Their first collection in 2015/16 screamed retro, as they had two technical sponsor free jerseys in pretty much identical styles – the only difference was within the sleeve cuffs. The design saw Kappa place their logo at the top of both of the arms, while the word ‘Kappa’ was also written out on the right shoulder. Its neckline was an open V-neck with an ever so slightly stuck up collar. The home jersey was white with a blue neckline and sleeve cuffs, while the away was yellow with just a blue neckline.
2019/20 marked 100 years of Leeds United Football Club and it was celebrated by the inclusion of a gold centenary crest embroidered on the front of the shirts. It featured 100 years on a scroll just below the club emblem and 1919 – 2019 printed either side of it. Inside of all three strips, just under the back’s neckline, ‘Marching on Together’, a line from the famous club anthem, was printed. The home kit combined white and grey, the away brought black and pink together, while the third went down the route of light blue and white.
To further pay tribute to the milestone, Leeds and Kappa worked together to bring out a special Centenary Strip which would be worn for just one fixture against Birmingham City. The shirt, which had an old school laced up neckline, also featured the centenary crest. Kappa and 32 Red, that seasons shirt sponsor, were recognised in white text, despite the white base, on the right-hand side of the chest. Only 1919 of these were made to buy for supporters and it came with a copy of the 'Official History of Leeds United' book written by Andrew Dalton. Some would say their promotion to the Premier League this campaign was meant to be.
2008 – 2015 – Macron
Coincidentally, Leeds transferred to Kappa from another Italy based sports apparel brand in Macron. Away strips are going to be the main talking points within this section, but I am going to begin by describing the 2013/14 home jersey. It was a little different to what we have become accustomed to seeing Leeds wear at Elland Road.
Right down the middle of the aforementioned campaigns home shirt was two vertical thick blue stripes along with two thin yellow ones. Given the fact that most Leeds United home kits don’t have too many bold features, Macron somewhat ‘pushed the boat out’ and ‘tested the waters’ with this one. As a neutral, I liked it, but if you’re a Leeds supporter that is a stickler for tradition, then I can understand the potential discontent.
Sticking with 2013/14 while we’re there, the away shirt from this year was also quite an interesting one. It was an innovative design mixing a gold base with navy-blue features. It’s collar and sleeve cuffs were both navy-blue with golden hoops, and in addition to this, there were flashes of navy-blue on the tops shoulders, side panels and side hems.
The next one that I wanted to mention was the 2011/12 away jersey. It is interesting to me because, again, it isn’t something that I historically picture the Whites wearing. The top had a black base with thin bright yellow stripes running through it to go with its bright yellow collar, sleeve cuffs and side panels. The Leeds crest was also customised to yellow and black to match.
Finally, and somewhat fittingly, I am going to finish this section by discussing an away strip which was donned when the Macron era officially begun back in 2008/09. It had evenly sized vertical dark and light blue stripes, with one small strip of yellow on the back of the collar which had L.U.F.C elegantly stitched in. For me, it was a sound introduction.
2005 – 2008 – Admiral
As mentioned in the previous section, Leeds home kits don’t usually have too much going on, but back in 1881, the Whites had a classic home strip produced which they wore until 1884 and it wasn’t a clean, solid white the whole way through. In 2005/06, Admiral attempted to recreate this and I would say it was to some success. The Admiral jersey had thin interchanging yellow and blue vertical stripes running about three quarters of the way through its white base. The sleeve cuffs were navy blue, while the collar was also navy blue with a yellow outline.
A kit that has its place in Leeds folklore for longevity is a predominately navy-blue centre badge design, which has a light blue strip going diagonally from the collar to around the arm pit area on both sides. This shirt was worn for three years, starting out as the clubs away jersey in 2005/06, transferring to their third strip in 2006/07 and staying as the third outfit in 2007/08.
2004 -2005 – Diadora
Leeds and Diadora’s partnership broke down after just one season, despite being initially planned to last for five.
For the single season that the pair enjoyed together, all of the West Yorkshire clubs’ shirts, including the goalkeeper jerseys, were in the centre crest concept.
2000 – 2004 – Nike
Leeds fans will not have fond memories of Nike’s 2003/04 collection, as that was the campaign that Premier League football got taken away from Elland Road after fourteen consecutive seasons in the division. It then took the Whites sixteen years to mount a return.
The home shirt from that campaign was also worn in 2002/03, so I suppose owners of that kit can take some comfort in that. It was a simple, but effective, white polo shirt design with blue touches in various areas.
Although, in my opinion, what stole the show in 2003/04 was the away kit. It reminds me of the aforementioned 2005/06 Admiral strip which is inspired from the early 80’s, except it had the colours in reverse roles. It was navy-blue, but with thin yellow and white vertical stripes running three quarters of the way down.
Another fine away jersey was worn in 2002/03 and it came in the form of a V-neck yellow strip which had a spiral like pattern imprinted. The patterning led to the yellow fading into white around the shirt sponsor area. I’ll just quickly reel off some of the names that worn this jersey – Robbie Fowler, Alan Smith, James Milner, Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka.
1996 – 2000 – Puma
To begin on a positive note, I am a huge fan of the Puma manufactured home jersey which the club donned from 1998 until 2000. It was a V-neck, with a polo shirt collar, and not only did it have Puma branding in the typical manufacturer spot, but it also ran down the strip’s arms in Leeds blue. The sleeve cuffs were yellow with blue outlines. Interestingly though, Leeds had to wear a different shirt without the puma branding on the sleeves for games in Europe because it wasn’t in line with UEFA’s regulations.
As for the 1997 – 1999 away shirt, I’ll be honest, I am not a huge fan. It was half yellow, half blue, but it wasn’t just as simple as splitting it down the middle of the base. On the blue side, half of the collar and the arm were yellow. While on the yellow side, half of the collar and the arm were blue. I guess it is just a bit too much for me, but if you like ‘out there’ jerseys then it could be for you.
1993 – 1996 – Asics
Asics is a Japanese brand that is arguably most known today for their production of sports footwear, however, they still do manufacture football kits, but they mainly focus on the J-League. Leeds found a deal with them in 1993 and Asics are the producers of the famous green and navy-blue striped strip which Adidas created a modern remake of in 2020/21.
However, there is more to Asics’ time with the Elland Road club than that strip and it comes in the shape of the 1995/96 home kit. It had a turtle neck collar and L.U.F.C stitched into where you would typically expect the club emblem. Reminiscent of what we saw on Leeds shirts in the early 70’s. You’re now probably thinking that it didn’t feature the club crest at all, right? Well, you’d be wrong – it did! It was just moved to the right-hand side and made smaller, put just above the Asics branding. I urge you to take a look at it – it is probably the most interesting plain white shirt that I have ever seen.
The above is probably a marmite football top, you’ll either love it or hate it, but the other home jersey which Asics produced I think the majority will love – or at least not hate it! It was a white polo shirt with a blue collar and it then had a blue and yellow conjoined hoop going around the centre of the shirt. Furthermore, it also had a thin blue hoop running around both arms.
1992 – 1993 – Admiral
The perfect way to describe this Admiral spell with the club would be to say that they came and left with a bang. Replica’s of the away and third jerseys, which have identical patterning, continue to be sold today.
The away is blue with yellow details and the third simply reverses the colours. The cool, but strange, pattern runs on its shoulders and then also from the bottom of the shirt up until around half way point. Both of the shirts have the Yorkshire rose embossed into the background.
The yellow version is famous for the clubs 2-1 win over VfB Stuttgart at the Camp Nou in what was a huge Champions League controversy.
1981 – 1992 – Umbro
As mentioned in the introduction, Leeds last became the Champions of England in 1991/92, so it would be wrong if I didn’t dedicate the bulk of this section to the strips worn that campaign. Let’s start with the home shirt, it had a buttoned neckline which was blue with yellow and white dashes hooping around it. It had a V like pattern imprinted into it, with more yellow and blue touches on its arms. The double diamond brand did a good job.
However, there is a slight twist, typically home shirts become more memorable for trophy success than away jerseys, simply because it is more often than not what clubs lift the silverware wearing, however, in this instance, I actually think the away tips it. The reason for this would be because it was also part of the collection that was worn when the Yorkshire club won promotion from the second division in 1989/90. Understandably, it is still sought after today and I can see why. It was a yellow polo shirt with a blue collar and it had some kind of triangular pattern embedded into it. The sleeve cuffs were made up of a white and blue hoop.
From 1986 – 1988, Leeds had another intriguing away jersey. It was a centre badge design with a yellow base, but it had a predominately blue chest and blue sleeves. The collar reversed back to the yellow with a blue outline at the top. Just to make things a little more interesting, Umbro also incorporated a small white section on either side of the chest too. The home followed a similar concept, but it was a little less jazzy.
1974 – 1981 – Admiral
Admiral got the ultimate exposure during this spell, with Leeds playing in a European Cup final against Bayern Munich in 1974/75. The Whites lost 2-0 in Paris at the Parc des Princes, but it was only the second time an English club had played in the final. Only Manchester United had done it seven years prior to this.
The shirts in these early years were fairly plain and bland, but the 1977 – 1981 home jersey was admittedly a cracker. It oozes class with its polo V-neck collar, which was blue with yellow hooping to match the sleeve cuffs.
1964 – 1973 – Umbro
Umbro was the clubs first ever kit manufacturer and they even had a one season spell prior to this for the 1958/59 season. The remaining uncovered years were designed and produced in house.
As you may have guessed, most of the shirts during this partnership were either plain white or plain yellow, but something that may shock you is that the club actually had a red third kit in 1971/72. For a number of the years in the early 70’s, we also saw that elegantly stitched L.U.F.C instead of an actual emblem.
Leeds were remarkably successful during this period, with two league titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup and a Charity Shield.
Leeds United Shirt Sponsor History
Leeds United have had a number of shirt sponsors since 1981 and they didn’t manage a partnership which lasted for more than one season until 1986. Let’s delve into them further…
2023 – present – Boxt
Funnily enough, Leeds have recently changed their technical sponsor after agreeing a deal with Boxt in June 2023. Boxt is an award winning British smart home systems installer that was founded in 2017. Mel Butler, executive chairman and founder of BOXT, revealed in the announcement statement that the concept of Boxt was actually developed at Elland Road.
It’s feature on the shirt is simple. It is just the word Boxt printed in a bold elegant text. I like it.
2020 – 2023 – SBOTOP
SBOTOP is a global online betting brand and they probably would have faced some fierce competition to secure this deal, given that the Whites had just achieved promotion to the Premier League.
The brand had their logo on the shirt, along with SBOTOP. The logo was a stickman running made up of two colours. I appreciated that the colour combination of the stickman was altered each time to suit the colour of the strip. My only complaint is that the feature seemed a little too long.
2016 – 2020 – 32Bet
32Red is a British online casino company, but its headquarters is actually in Gibraltar. The season prior to this deal, the Yorkshire club actually had a shirt sponsor free campaign.
The initial agreement was for a two-year partnership, although the success of it meant that it was extended for a further two. Leeds United Executive Director Paul Bell said that the extension was one of the largest commercial agreements in their history.
If I am being picky, the text for this feature could have been smaller, but in reality, there isn’t too much to dislike about it.
2011 – 2016 – Enterprise Insurance
Coincidentally, insurance centre, Enterprise Insurance, also had a base in Gibraltar. However, this isn’t a partnership which was full of roses, as there was a legal battle between the two parties in 2014.
Above the words ‘Enterprise Insurance’, which was written out in a fairly elegant text, was the company’s logo. It isn’t the greatest shirt sponsor feature that I have ever seen, but it is by no means the worst.
2008 – 2011 – Netflights.com
Netflights.com is a travel operator and, as per Marketing Week, the deal only came about because contractual difficulties cropped up with a rival sponsor and it scuppered the deal.
The N, G and M within Netflights.com had an arrow on it, which I can only presume signifies travelling or a plane. I liked it, it didn’t overpower the shirts in any sense and it slotted in nicely.
2007 – 2008 – Red Kite Holdings
Red Kite Holdings, a company which specialised in property, took the central spot for a single season. Although, it is believed that Leeds supporters were not happy with this feature because their logo incorporated red – a colour associated to their rivals Manchester United.
2006 – 2007 – Bet24
Leeds’ deal with Bet24 thankfully only lasted one season, because it was a bit of an eye sore.
However, Bet24 certainly got their money’s worth out of the marketing budget, as an initiative was set-up where Bet24 customers could choose to claim a free Leeds United Home Shirt as their sign-up bonus, instead of the 50% bonus bet.
2003 – 2006 – Whyte and Mackay
Whyte and Mackay is a blended scotch whiskey brand and the deal they penned with Leeds was reportedly worth £3 million with the potential to rise to £6.5 million.
Their feature on the shirt had a blue background with white text. Perhaps it is the fact that Leeds home shirts are typically made up of those colours, but I actually think it looked fairly decent.
2000 – 2006 – Strongbow
Strongbow is a well-known dry cider which originates from the United Kingdom. It was introduced to the markets in 1960.
Their text on the strip was curved and black, except for on the blue third shirt, where it was yellow. I’d give this one a thumbs up. It looked good.
1996 – 2000 – Packard Bell
Packard Bell is a computer manufacturing brand, but again, it wasn’t a partnership that the Leeds fanbase liked because of the red features in their logo.
From a neutral perspective, it didn’t look too bad, but I did prefer the few shirts that they produced without the actual company emblem.
1993 – 1996 – Thistle Hotels
Thistle Hotels is a UK based hotel chain and for the most part, I have no complaints at all about their feature.
However, the white text on the yellow and blue 1993 – 1995 away strip just wasn’t visible at all. They should have come up with something different.
1992 – 1993 – Admiral Sportswear
Not only did Admiral manufacture the shirts in 1992/93, but they also sponsored them. Given the aforementioned history in the away and third strip, they will be glad that they did – double the exposure!
To be fair, I actually liked how it looked too. It now adds to the retro-ness.
1991 – 1992 – The Yorkshire Evening Post
The Yorkshire Evening Post is a daily evening newspaper publication in Leeds. It was described as a ‘stop gap’ sponsor to cover a 12-month period where the club had no agreed sponsor. Given the Whites won the league that campaign, just how lucky did they get?!
The word ‘Yorkshire’, although perhaps intentional, wasn’t really readable on the jersey – that would be my only issue with it.
1986 – 1991 – The Burton Group
The Burton Group utilised their partnership with the club to promote their men’s fashion retail brand, Top Man, from 1989 until 1991, but prior to that Burton did take centre stage.
The text for Burton was a little more appealing and it only took up one line of the shirt, for that reason, I probably prefer it to the Top Man feature which took up two.
1985 – 1986 – Lion Cabinets
The Lion Cabinets feature had a little lion placed just above the text and it did seem a little random, but that isn’t to say it necessarily looked bad. I didn’t hate it!
1984 – 1985 – WGK
As the chosen text colour was white, WGK was placed onto the Leeds shirt with a black background. I think how they allowed the W to naturally run onto the shirt really made it. It eliminated the ‘sticker’ look.
1983 – 1984 – Systime
Systime was a computer company which was founded in Leeds. The birth of the business came in 1973.
Each letter was white with a black background, and they were stuck on to the shirt individually with a break between each. It made it fairly difficult to read for me, but I appreciate the idea.
1982 – 1983 – RFW
RFW, now known as Winder Power, was an electrical company based in Pudsey – a neighbouring town. They had the honours of being the clubs first ever shirt sponsor.
It was a sound introduction for shirt sponsors too, as I think their branding looked good. The letters were boxed in by a black outline and the R and the F were also black. The W, though, was white on a black background.
As you got deeper into this article, you really began to feel the true history and heritage behind the club with some classic retro shirts. As for their sponsor history, well, the club’s decision makers have a peculiar job given that none of businesses can have a red feature for understandable reasons. That said, considering how many shirt sponsors they have had, they have done well to avoid too many shockers!