Rangers chairman Dave King has stepped up his legal battle with Sports Direct and insists the retail giant owned by Mike Ashley will not have the “final word” in the long-running dispute over the Ibrox club’s kit sales.
Last week Rangers lost the latest round of court proceedings over the issue when the High Court ruled they had breached the terms of an agreement with Sports Direct by entering into a new partnership with rival football merchandising firm Elite Group.
The court judgement stated Rangers should have offered Sports Direct the opportunity to match the terms of the deal with Elite Group for the retail of Rangers’ replica kit.
Sports Direct responded by urging Rangers to accept the outcome and put in place a new agreement with them. But King has now hit back, indicating he is ready to take fresh legal action against Sports Direct for what he claims are outstanding payments due to Rangers.
“I note with interest Sports Direct’s press statement following Wednesday’s court judgement,” said King. “I also note Sports Direct’s failure when it went back to court on Friday, 26 October, in an attempt to extract from the court a more favourable interpretation of Wednesday’s judgement than was clearly warranted by the court’s narrow ruling.
“In my view, this failure was another significant setback for Sports Direct – it clearly misunderstood the impact that Wednesday’s ruling would have on the club when making its statement.
“In its statement Sports Direct expressed the hope that Rangers will now move on and put in place commercial arrangements with Sports Direct and that this would be for the benefit of Rangers fans and the club. There is no mention of what benefit such arrangements might bring to the club and its supporters. I challenge Sports Direct to follow up its statement by sharing with Rangers supporters how much last season’s retail agreement benefited the club.
“In terms of profits from Sports Direct’s sale of Rangers kit under the prior agreement, the club has still not, despite repeated requests, received a proper accounting for the retail activities or payments due under it.
“That certainly does not provide me with any comfort in dealing with Sports Direct as a partner. It is solely because of Sports Direct’s refusal or inability to act as expected of a normal commercial partner that Rangers now has no choice but to litigate to secure payments that are due and are long outstanding.
“My advice to Sports Direct is that whatever short-term success it might enjoy through its courtroom manoeuvrings will not affect my resolve, nor that of RIFC’s other investors to ensure the best deal for the club and its supporters. We continue to show the resolve we have demonstrated over the last three years in resisting all attempts by Mike Ashley and Sports Direct to take further advantage of our club.
“As in previous litigation, Sports Direct’s urgent court injunctions will always be complied with – but will not be the final word.”