The UK’s Competition Markets Authority (CMA) has announced that it has “provisionally found” that Elite Sports and JD sports may have broken competition law by illegally price-fixing select Rangers Football Club merchandise.
According to the government organisation, Elite Sports and JD Sports had potentially been carrying out the anti-competition behaviour between September 2018 until July 2019, on Rangers-branded replica kits and other clothing products.
Rangers FC was also accused of taking part, however, only on fixing the retail price of adult home replica shirts from September 2018 to mid-November 2018.
During this period, Elite was the manufacturer of Rangers-branded clothing and sold the club’s products through Gers’ online store as well as bricks-and-mortar stores. JD Sports was the only UK-wide retailer selling the products at the time.
If confirmed, the CMA said all three companies involved can expect to face fines.
“We don’t hesitate to take action when we have concerns that companies may be working together to keep costs up,” said Michael Grenfell, executive director of enforcement at the CMA, in a release.
Grenfell continued: “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.”
During the investigation, each party will be able to make representations to the CMA before the final decision is made. Both Elite and JD Sports have applied for leniency during the investigation and confessed to cartel activity, which could see them receive a reduced fine.