Before reading this sensational story, please refer to the date of publication.
The image here shows the “End of 2019-20 season” Liverpool FC Home shirt. It is, in a manner of speaking, a collaborative effort between Nike and New Balance.
In case you’ve been living on Mars - lucky you - you’ll be aware that the coronavirus outbreak has had a devastating impact on normal life, and football is no exception to that. Consequently, the 2019-20 season has been paused - cancelled for many - and Liverpool’s surge to the Premier League title has been halted. The hope for Liverpool fans is that this is a temporary cessation and the club will soon still become Champions of England for the first time in 30 years, and lift the Premier League trophy for the first time in their history.
Back onto the kit: by way of a very high-profile legal dispute, New Balance were not able to secure an extension to their eight-year association with the Merseyside club - the first three of which saw the Liver Bird share chests with the logo of subsidiary Warrior - and Nike were due to take over the technical partner role for 2020-21 - i.e., after the end of 2019-20 - or on 1st June 2020.
As a pre-Covid-19 state of affairs, this was relatively standard in the world of big money kit deals. However, it quickly became apparent that rather than “after the end of 2019-20” and “1st June 2020” being synonymous, they are now potentially contradictory. Or, at the very least, very unhappy bedfellows.
New Balance, whilst disappointed to lose such a prestigious client, were comforting themselves with the knowledge that they would be supplying Liverpool at the very moment they secured the aforementioned Premier League title. The arrangements, as they currently stand, with no conclusion to Liverpool’s season in sight, put that into significant doubt.
So to the leak. We have a photograph and some accompanying information from our source, and from that we’ll extrapolate some theory.
The shirt is a Nike product, from the 2019-20 range rather than in-keeping with the new releases/latest leaks - the nine pinstripes are configurated identically to those on the last Corinthians Home shirt - but features a reduced-size Swoosh with the addition of a similarly diminutive New Balance “NB” logo above (we assume to satisfy regulations on branding footprint), along with the Liverpool Liver Bird/L.F.C. crest on a patch - as is generally Nike’s approach - all in gold. These match the secondary sponsor Western Union's logo on the sleeve, and the main sponsor - Standard Chartered - has its logo presented in white. And, whilst it’s difficult to make out, the neck detail appears to be a stylisation of the popular “Anfield flag” chequerboard, perhaps as a cheeky Nike flourish on a shirt that is highly influenced by the existing New Balance 2019-20 equivalent.
The example pictured appears to be the “Stadium” rather than “Authentic” version, suggesting this item may be retailed, and begs questions about how many have been put into production, and how this was possible considering recent disruption to manufacturing - though football was ahead of the lockdowns curve in terms of postponement of matches.
The information we have suggests that the accompanying shorts will be red and plain - as most Nike shorts have been in 2019-20 - but will also feature the "double logo", as will the socks, which echo the first choice red and white halved socks of the New Balance kit. The latter is something Nike had in their locker already - see Internazionale, amongst others - and is likely to be a concession to the Premier League, who may have consented to the in-season kit change with the proviso that each element resembled what they have on file.
The headline is clearly that this is a hybrid shirt - no doubt to be marketed as a collab - and credit must surely go to Nike and New Balance for apparently putting to one side any differences they had to satisfy both parties’ claims on Liverpool’s kit at such an important moment and during such a difficult time. Whether it will ever be worn, and when if so, remains to be seen, but there is talk of a behind-closed-doors free-to-air conclusion to the Premier League being played at a selection of Midlands, and perhaps London, training grounds in June and July - with the baton of Liverpool’s kit deal, based on dates, having contractually been passed by that point, from New Balance to Nike.
Time will tell, but regardless of whether or not this shirt will be worn on a pitch as this flair ’Pool side finally crosses the line, we can certainly add “New Balance x Nike collaboration" to the list of things we’ve experienced in 2020 that we never thought possible before.
And that was April Fool’s Day 2020. We hope this bit of fun offered some brief light relief.