Rangers back in court over Sports Direct merchandise dispute

Bosses at Rangers Football Club are waiting for a High Court judge's ruling after becoming embroiled in a fresh merchandise deal row with Sports Direct and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.

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Less than three months ago, a High Court judge said both sides should “try to make peace”.

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In late July, Mr Justice Phillips was told, at a High Court hearing in London, that a dispute over the terms of a deal had settled.

Rangers are once again fighting Mike Ashley and Sports Direct. Picture: AFP/Getty

But lawyers representing the two sides were back at the High Court in London on Wednesday, arguing in front of a different judge, after Mr Ashley complained of a recent breach of contract by bosses at Rangers.

Bosses at Rangers dispute the complaint.

The latest judge, Mr Justice Teare, said he would aim to produce a ruling in the near future.

Mr Justice Phillips had heard in July how a deal, which allows a company in the Sports Direct group to sell replica Rangers kits and other branded products, was expiring.

He had been told that bosses at Rangers wanted to sign a new deal with someone else, but SDI Retail Services executives objected and said they should have a chance to match any new offer.

The judge had been due to analyse evidence about the meaning of a contract clause at a trial.

But lawyers representing both sides told him that out-of-court agreements had been made.

The judge said Rangers had accepted claims made by SDI bosses.

He said Rangers and SDI were negotiating another deal, and added: “I would really have thought the time has come to try to make peace.”

The judge was told that more than £500,000 had been spent on lawyers, with SDI running up legal costs of £350,000 and Rangers £185,000.

Mr Justice Phillips said Rangers’ bosses should pick up the vast majority of SDI’s legal bills as well paying their own fees.

On Wednesday, lawyers representing SDI said Rangers had entered into an agreement with another company, following the hearing in July, which was a breach of contract.

Lawyers representing Rangers said bosses were not in breach of the terms of an agreement with SDI.