Rangers could strike a new agreement with Sports Direct which would allow their supporters to purchase fully-endorsed club merchandise again in time for next season, according to Dave King.
The club’s chairman believes his differences with the retail giant’s owner Mike Ashley, who also has a 9 per cent stake in Rangers, can be resolved “soon” despite ongoing court proceedings over the controversial deal struck by former Ibrox chief executive Charles Green.
A High Court ruling is due soon on a claim from Sports Direct that King and his fellow directors, who ousted the previous Ashley-backed board from control of Rangers two years ago, wrongly terminated the contract which is believed to earn the club just 4p from every £1 earned in kit sales and other branded products. Despite the often rancorous nature of the dispute, which has seen most Rangers fans boycott replica shirt sales, King is “optimistic” a re-negotiated deal can be reached which would be heavily in favour of the club.
“There is a possibility that in pre-season we might be able to do a proper kit launch that we can endorse and that will have the support of all the fans,” said King on the day Rangers announced half-year accounts showing a profit of just under £300,000 and revenue of £16.3 million, up £12m on the previous year. “The position [with Sports Direct] is certainly not worse than it was the last time we spoke, but we don’t have resolution yet.”
King does not believe the widespread perception of a genuine hostility towards him from Ashley will be a significant factor in any talks. “I don’t think it is a personal animus,” he added. “I think there is an element of that because he [Ashley] sees me as the person resisting, maybe he thinks the Rangers board would have been more compliant if I wasn’t there. With Mike, he just doesn’t like losing. If it wasn’t me and it was someone else showing the same level of resistance then Mike would feel the same. It is certainly not to the extent that we can’t do business.”