Rangers Football Club, JD Sports and Elite Sports have been accused of conspiring to illegally fix prices of Rangers club merchandise.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the three groups could expect to face fines if they are found to have broken the law.
The UK competition watchdog has alleged that sporting goods firm Elite Sports and retailer JD Sports fixed the retail prices of a number of Rangers-branded replica kits and other clothing products from September 2018 until at least July 2019.
It also said that Rangers Football Club took part in the alleged collusion, but only to the extent of fixing the retail price of adult home short-sleeved replica shirts from September 2018 to at least mid-November 2018.
All three are alleged to have colluded to stop JD Sports from undercutting the retail price of the shirt on Elite’s Gers Online store, according to the CMA.
Michael Grenfell, executive director of enforcement at the CMA, said: “We don’t hesitate to take action when we have concerns that companies may be working together to keep costs up.
“Football fans are well-known for their loyalty towards their teams.
“We are concerned that, in this case, Elite, JD Sports and, to some extent, Rangers, may have colluded to keep prices high, so that the two retailers could pocket more money for themselves at the expense of fans.”
In a statement, the club said: “The Rangers Football Club Limited (‘Rangers’) confirms that it has today received a Statement of Objections (‘SO’) from the Competition and Markets Authority (‘CMA’) which sets outs the CMA’s preliminary findings in relation to its investigation into the pricing of Rangers-branded replica football kit between September 2018 and November 2018.
“The SO represents the CMA’s provisional view only. It is not a finding that Rangers has broken the law and does not mean that the CMA will issue a final decision or impose a fine on Rangers.
“Rangers is committed to operating its business in full compliance with all laws, including competition law, and treats this matter very seriously.
“As such, Rangers will review in detail the CMA’s preliminary findings and will be submitting its response to the CMA in due course.
“Rangers notes that it has cooperated with the CMA since the investigation was initiated and will continue to do so.
JD Sports said: “The CMA’s findings are, at this stage, only provisional and the group will now review them with its advisers.
“The CMA will consider any representations that are made before issuing its final findings.
“As the CMA has noted, JD has co-operated fully with the CMA and, provided this continues, JD will receive a reduction on any financial penalties that the CMA may decide to impose.”
Elite Sports has been contacted for comment.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country