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Linfield chairman says club will not be dropping new kit design after UVF comparisons

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The new Linfield away kit.

The new Linfield away kit.

The new Linfield away kit.

The chairman of Linfield FC has said the club will not be dropping a new kit design amid claims that it resembles the colours of the UVF.

Roy McGivern dismissed Alliance MP Stephen Farry’s call for a rethink, saying his intervention was “truly staggering”.

The club has said any comparison was “totally coincidental and entirely unintentional”.

The strip — predominantly purple with an orange diagonal stripe across the shirt — was released on Wednesday.

It was met with criticism on social media, with some drawing comparisons between the colours used and those of a 1912 UVF flag.

Linfield released a statement that rejected any suggestions the colour choice was made to resemble anything outside the club.

“The design has met with approval from large numbers of supporters, but unfortunately and sadly there have been certain suggestions from a small number from outside the club which this club cannot ignore,” it said.

“For the avoidance of all doubt, the design is of a football kit for a football club and any similarity, likeness (or) resemblance with any other design used by any other entity is totally coincidental and entirely unintentional.

“Any allegation or inference to the contrary is robustly and vigorously rejected by this club, which prides itself on being inclusive, open to all and representative of all.

“Linfield FC is totally opposed to all forms of bigotry, prejudice, violence and discrimination.”

But Mr Farry called for Linfield to “rethink” the kit design.

He said: “This may well be purely coincidental and unintentional, but I do think a rethink would be appropriate.

“The similarity to UVF colours is too striking.

“Many other colours and designs are available. Why leave any ambiguity and risk offence to so many?”

Mr McGivern hit back on Twitter, insisting there will be no rethink.

He said: “Is this where we are as a society when an elected MP thinks that ordinary every day colours can be owned or monopolised by a paramilitary organisation?

“Truly staggering and I can assure @StephenFarryMP that there will be no rethink.”

Among those drawing comparisons between the new kit and the UVF flag was former Liverpool and England striker Stan Collymore.

Posting the kit alongside a UVF flag, Collymore wrote: “Nice new kit @OfficialBlues What’s the 3rd kit?”

Collymore’s Tweet received over 100 retweets and 600 likes before it was removed.

However, it sparked responses from Linfield fans to Collymore, who also played for Nottingham Forest and Aston Villa, and his post was later deleted.

The loyalist terrorist organisation was formed in 1966 by ex-British soldier Gusty Spence and others as tensions grew ahead of the outbreak of the Troubles. Before its 1994 ceasefire the organisation was responsible for the murder of over 400 civilians.

The purple 36th Ulster Division UVF flag is used to commemorate the signing of the Ulster Covenant in 1912 and the formation of the original Ulster Volunteer Force.

It also recognises those who served during the Great War, particularly at the Battle of the Somme.

It is not the first time a new football kit design has sparked controversy.

One of the most infamous was a grey jersey worn by Manchester United in 1996. It was used just five times and United never won wearing it.

Against Southampton at The Dell, boss Alex Ferguson made the players switch the tops at half-time when they were 3-0 down, blaming the kit for United’s poor passing game.

Belfast Telegraph