The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has found that Elite Sports and JD Sports breached competition law by fixing the retail prices of a number of Rangers-branded replica kits and other apparel products from September 2018 to July 2019. Rangers FC also participated in the collusion, but only to the extent that they fixed the retail price of replica adult short-sleeved shirts at home from September 2018 to mid-November 2018. The 3 companies have agreed to prevent JD Sports from undercutting the retail price of the shirt on the Elite Gers online store.
Elite Sports were fined £459,000, JD Sports £1,485,000 and Rangers £225,000. The penalties include a postponement of settlement, reflecting the savings in resources for the CMA as a result of all 3 parties admitting to having acted illegally and contributing to a faster resolution of the CMA’s investigation. Elite Sports and JD Sports’ penalties also include a reduction for providing information about their involvement in the illegal conduct and cooperating with the investigation under the CMA’s leniency program.
Michael Grenfell, CMA’s Executive Director of Law Enforcement, said:
At a time when many people are concerned about the rising cost of living, it is important that football fans can benefit from competitively priced products.
Instead, Elite, JD Sports and to some extent Rangers have worked together to keep prices high.
Today’s decision sends a clear message to football clubs and other businesses that unlawful anti-competitive collusion will not be tolerated.
At the time of the infringement, Elite was the manufacturer of Rangers branded clothing and also sold Rangers branded goods directly through its Gers online store and later through physical stores in Glasgow and Belfast. The only major UK-wide retailer selling these products at the time was JD Sports.
The CMA investigation revealed that Rangers FC were concerned that at the start of the 2018 to 2019 football season, JD Sports were selling the Rangers replica top at a lower price than Elite, which was then considered to be the ‘business partner’. This resulted in an agreement between the 3 parties that JD Sports would increase the retail price of the replica Rangers adult short sleeve shirt by almost 10% from £55 to £60 to bring it into line on the prices charged by Elite on Gers Online.
The CMA also found that Elite and JD Sports – without Rangers’ involvement – agreed to set retail prices for Rangers-branded apparel, including training apparel and replica kits, on a more long period. This included aligning the level and timing of discounts towards the end of the football season in 2019, to avoid competition between them and protect their profit margins.
More information can be found on the case page: Alleged anti-competitive behavior in relation to the price of the Rangers FC branded replica football kit.
Notes to Editors
- For media enquiries, contact the CMA Press Office on 020 3738 6460 or [email protected]
- The prohibition in Chapter I of the Competition Act 1998 prohibits agreements and concerted practices between undertakings which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition in the UK.
- Any company found guilty of breaching the prohibitions of the Competition Act 1998 can be fined up to 10% of the group’s annual worldwide turnover.
- The infringement decision is addressed to the following parties: Elite Sports Group Limited and its parent company Elite Corporation Limited; JD Sports Fashion Plc; and The Rangers Football Club Limited and its parent company Rangers International Football Club Plc.
- A non-confidential version of the infringement decision will be published shortly.
- On June 7, 2022, the CMA issued a Statement of Objections setting out its interim findings that Elite Sports, JD Sports and Rangers Football Club breached competition law by fixing the retail prices of certain Rangers-branded clothing products.
- Under the CMA’s Leniency Policy, a company that has been involved in a cartel may be granted immunity from sanctions or a significant reduction in sanction in exchange for reporting cartel activity. and assistance to the CMA in its investigation. Persons involved in cartel activities may also, in certain defined circumstances, be granted immunity from criminal prosecution for the cartel offense under the Companies Act 2002 and from the disqualification proceedings of the competition. The CMA also operates a rewards policy under which it can pay a financial reward of up to £100,000 in return for information that helps it identify and take action against cartels. For more information on the CMA’s leniency and reward policies for informants, go to Leniency and Rewards.
- Anyone with information about a cartel is encouraged to call the CMA Cartel Hotline on 020 3738 6888 or email [email protected]