Why have Rangers been fined over the sale of replica football kits?

Elite Sports and JD Sports broke the law by fixing retail prices of Rangers-branded kits and other clothing items.

Why have Rangers, JD Sports and Elite been fined over the sale of replica football kits? Craig Foy via SNS Group

Rangers have been fined more than £200,000 after the club admitted playing a role in fixing the price of replica strips.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced the fine on Tuesday, along with bigger punishments for retailers Elite Sports and JD Sports for colluding to keep prices high.

How much has each been fined?

JD Sports has been fined £1.485m, Elite Sports fined £459,000 and Rangers fined £225,000 – a total of more than £2m.

The CMA said Elite Sports and JD Sports broke the law by fixing retail prices of Rangers-branded kits and other clothing items from September 2018 to July 2019.

It added that Rangers “also took part in the collusion”, but only in fixing the price of specific adult home short-sleeved shirts from September to mid-November in 2018.

The CMA added that all three worked together to stop JD Sports undercutting the retail price of the shirt on Elite’s Gers Online store.

What did the investigation find?

The regulator first began an investigation in December 2020.

Elite manufactured Rangers-branded clothing at the time and also sold it through its online store and later in physical stores in Glasgow and Belfast, while JD was the only UK-wide major retailer also selling the items at the time.

The CMA said its investigation found that the football club became concerned that, at the start of the 2018-19 season, JD was selling the Rangers replica top at a lower price than Elite.

Lubo Ivanko via iStock

This resulted in an agreement between the parties that JD would lift its price from £55 to £60 to bring it in line with Elite.

The CMA said it also found that Elite and JD, without involvement from Rangers, fixed the prices of Rangers-branded clothing, including training wear and replica kit, over a longer period.

‘Won’t be tolerated’

Michael Grenfell, executive director of enforcement at the CMA, said: “At a time when many people are worried about the rising cost of living, it is important that football fans are able to benefit from competitively priced merchandise.

“Instead, Elite, JD Sports and, to some extent, Rangers, worked together to keep prices high.

“Today’s decision sends a clear message to football clubs and other businesses that illegal anti-competitive collusion will not be tolerated.”

JD Sports won’t appeal fine

JD Sports said on Tuesday that it will not be appealing and said it had already set aside roughly £2m to cover the matter, including legal costs.

“No directors or senior management of JD were involved in the offending conduct, which took place in 2018-2019,” the company added.

“JD has taken a number of steps to strengthen its competition compliance programme and is committed to ensuring that this is embedded into its daily operations.”

What are Rangers saying?

Rangers have been contacted for comment about today’s fine but have not responded.

The club released a statement earlier this year saying: “Rangers is committed to operating its business in full compliance with all laws, including competition law, and treats this matter very seriously.

“Rangers notes that it has cooperated with the CMA since the investigation was initiated and will continue to do so.”