Sports

Rangers Move To Cancel Licence Agreements With Merchandise Company Part-Owned By Sports Direct

The Ibrox club have served notice to cancel their licence agreements with Rangers Retail Limited, and are preparing to reclaim their intellectual property rights.
May 18, 2016, 5:01pm
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Rangers have served notice to cancel contracts relating to their licensing agreements with Rangers Retail Limited, a company that is joint-owned by the club and Sports Direct.

The Ibrox club own 51% of the company, while Mike Ashley's controversial sportswear giant holds sway over the rest of the shareholding. The joint venture was originally set up by former Gers chief executive Charles Green, and gives Sports Direct control over much of the club's merchandising.

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Current Rangers chairman Dave King is reported to be deeply dissatisfied with the arrangement, which apparently earns the club a mere four pence from every pound spent in their megastore. The financial disparity between the club and Sports Direct has led many Gers fans to boycott official merchandise, and Rangers' commercial revenues have been hit hard as a result.

Rangers have already triggered the seven-year notice period required to cancel their commercial ties to Sports Direct, but the latest move is a clear attempt to accelerate the process. The Gers are preparing to reclaim their intellectual property rights, meaning they have essentially terminated Sports Direct's right to sell products bearing the club crest.

A statement on their website reads: "Rangers Football Club Limited has today served notice on Rangers Retail Limited, terminating the IP Licence and Rights Agreement with that company with immediate effect.

"The Club now needs to speak to its commercial partners to agree the next steps flowing from the termination, and will make no further comment on this matter whilst discussions are ongoing.

"The Club will endeavour to communicate further with its supporters and customers for Rangers Kit and other Rangers products as soon as it is in a position to do so."

The matter could now be settled in court, though the Daily Record suggests that the club are confident they have legal grounds to jettison their agreements with Rangers Retail Limited. Mike Ashley holds a 9.92% stake in the club itself, having bought up several million shares during a period of financial instability in 2014.