RANGERS is battling several million pounds in damages for an alleged breach of a merchandise contract because of its agreements with Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct.
The details of the complaint came in the latest twist about the tough battle between Rangers and Sports Direct, after a judge previously declared that the club had violated a legal agreement that allowed Ashley’s company to make a club merchandising offer, including the replica kits from Scottish Premiership leaders.
And lawyers acting on behalf of Newcastle United’s owner’s sports firm said yesterday that the club feared a fan boycott if Sports Direct had won valuable rights over goods.
Mr. Ashley, who was once a controlling figure in the club with control over his trademarks and merchandise and Rangers, was involved in several High Block litigation, centered on the goods business, in London for more than two years.
Yesterday it was reported that a Sports Direct Group company, SDI Retail (SDIR), is seeking damages for an alleged breach of obligations in goods business through the London Commercial Court.
In July 2019, Judge Lionel Persey said the Rangers had violated the agreement with Sports Direct about the club’s kit business.
He determined that Mr. Ashley’s company should have had a chance to match a deal with a Hertfordshire-based shirt soccer the merchandising firm Elite and the sportswear firm Hummel are worth £ 10 million. A damage hearing was expected.
The case revolves around Mike Ashley, who was a former Rangers shareholder and previously seen as a club aficionado, closing a deal with a previous board that saw his company profit about 93 cents from every £ 1 made from the sale. of strips and goods.
That deal led some fans to boycott Sports Direct stores and the sale of the Rangers kit.
In late 2014, the fan group Rangers Supporters Trust launched an alternative shirt for fans when facing Ashley – and said that all profits would be invested in an increased shareholding in their club.
The Herald revealed that, in early 2015, Ashley was declared the “ultimate controller” of Rangers Retail, a joint venture with the club that controlled the club’s merchandising and stores.
When the venture was first confirmed by the club under then-chief executive Charles Green in August 2012, it was promoted as allowing Rangers to “once again control its retail operation and give fans a chance to buy directly from the club. and, in doing so, continue to invest in your future “.
A campaign was launched later in early 2015 by the fan group Sons of Struth, when King tried to change Ashley’s influence at the club and a petition calling for a boycott of Sports Direct attracted more than 8,000 signatures.
And in March 2015, South African businessman Dave King and his so-called Three Bears partners, including Paul Murray, achieved an overwhelming victory in an extraordinary general meeting to control the boardroom while evicting Mr. Ashley associates, Derek Llambias and Barry Leach. This happened after David Somers, who was the president, and James Easdale had already resigned.
Yesterday, at the London Commercial Court, in a debate over what should be disclosed by both sides in the action for damages, Sa’ad Hossain of SDIR told Judge Persey Rangers that he was demanding financial documents that would show the financial effect of any boycott To the club .
He said: “The Rangers say that some supporters would not have purchased the kit in the relevant period around July 2018 if SDIR acquired the rights offered because of dislike for SDIR.”
“This disclosure is contested because it has nothing to do with July 2018 onwards, it has to do with the historic boycott that occurred when the joint venture with [Rangers Retail] was in effect since November 2014.
“As we understand, the position of the Rangers in the polls should be made up of financial information from [Rangers Retail] going back to 2014 so that the impact of the boycott in 2014 can be determined.
“And then in turn [they will] make inferences of a boycott in different circumstances relevant to the claim.
“There are several reasons to think that this is not going to be a very informative exercise.
“Firstly, the extent to which fans have boycotted the kit in the past period can obviously be very different.
“It is common ground that from 2018 onwards Mr. King and Mr. Murray would have fulfilled their obligations, which would force them not to support a boycott of goods.
“In addition, Rangers went through a very different period during most of the boycott period.
“The boycott started in November 2014 and Rangers did not return to the Scottish Premiership until the end of the 2015/16 season.
“In the relevant damage period, Rangers are not only in the Scottish Premiership, but competing in the Europa League.
“We say it is a minor or minor issue.”
Akhil Shah QC for Rangers, said it would be the “end of the problem” if monthly management reports for the retail operation were provided, adding that they were not sent out regularly by Sports Direct.
The Commercial Court ‘trial’ is expected to last 12 days and both sides have been discussing the costs to be incurred.
Sports Direct said there was an agreement on its £ 299,400 budget for the ‘test’.
But he says his costs with the document disclosure procedure are contested by the club. Ashley’s company says it should be £ 204,725, while the club wants to limit it to £ 157,400.
SDIR told the court that an agreement was reached that the Rangers’ costs for the disclosure procedure would be £ 314,402. The Rangers had claimed about £ 319,000.
At Judge Persey’s trial in July 2019, he said, “I am pleased that [Sports Direct] not only did he have the right to equal the rights offered to Hummel / Elite, but he would also have
“These rights were not only offered to them, but the Rangers … falsely claimed that Hummel had not received any offered rights and did not provide SDIR with a copy of the Elite / Hummel Agreement.
“The result of all this is that Rangers, Elite and Hummel have so far performed and enjoyed the benefit of the Elite / Hummel deal.
In late June 2018, Rangers announced that Mr. King’s dispute with Mr. Ashley had ended, while confirmation of a new one-year kit contract with Ashley’s retail company had been closed.
King then hoped the deal would encourage fans to end the boycott of equipment sales and provide a major financial boost as Rangers aim to dispute the Scottish Premiership title.
The damage case comes a year after Rangers won a separate battle with Sports Direct, centered on the terms of an injunction aimed at preventing further violations of the original agreement between Rangers and SDIR.
The case continues.