With the next Newcastle United home strip rumoured to be released on August 1st (or if not, then a little closer to the first home match), now’s as good a time as any to look back at one of the most persistent rumours of the summer – that relating to a supposed early leak of the new black and white strip. The shirt in question first appeared some time ago, when the sponsor was still Northern Rock (hence the first image above), and since then a fresh image of the same shirt has appeared, greeted with as much belief from certain quarters as it was sneered at from others.

Personally I was in the latter group, refusing to accept that a shirt that was leaked the best part of a year before its unveiling could ever possibly be real, and annoyed that so many people had apparently fallen for it. And I held that opinion up until this morning, when I saw Puma’s new Borussia Dortmund Champions League shirt, which is listed for sale on their official site and which you can see below.

I’m sure you’ll agree that it looks more than a little familiar…

Different colours, but it’s the same shirt, even down to the stylised stripes that were such a point of contention when the Newcastle strip leak first appeared. Those odd spikes within the stripes were also the chief piece of evidence for those who believed the leak to be true, thanks to their appearance on merchandising banners that also appeared on Newcastle’s official site shop…

That now seems like an even greater coincidence, if it isn’t part of a Puma branding campaign for their shirts for this year. Before the Dortmund shirt came to light, those stripes could have been cleverly added to a faked shirt by an opportunist faker after the banner first appeared. Now though it looks to be a genuine branding trend, making those leaked shirts seem an awful lot more interesting than they were at first.

Newcastle United and Puma have both denied that the shirt is real, with the official announcement reportedly delayed by the Olympics games at St James Park, and the fact that Newcastle consequently cannot stage a home pre-season friendly, but if that was the case, we’re looking at an almighty coincidence here.

Maybe someone simply bleached the yellow out of the Dortmund strip with photoshop? Maybe, but it doesn’t look like that to us – and that banner is just too much to ignore.

Time will tell, but what do you Newcastle fans think? Would you be happy with this strip? Share your thoughts below.

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This article was first posted on July 13, 2012