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JD Sports and Elite Sports, along with Rangers Football Club, have been accused of conspiring to illegally fix the prices of club merchandise
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) alleges JD (JD.L) agreed to raise the prices of the Scottish club’s strips after reaching “an understanding” with Rangers and the shirt’s manufacturers, Elite Sports, between September 2018 and July 2019.
The three parties agreed that JD would raise its price for the Rangers adult short-sleeved home replica shirt by nearly 10%, from £55 to £60, to bring it in line with the prices being charged by Elite.
The CMA said the three parties could expect heavy fines if found guilty.
JD confirmed it had received a draft penalty notice from the CMA and said it would add a £2m provision for the fine in its financial statements.
The CMA also believes that Elite and JD – this time without involvement from Rangers – worked together to fix the prices of Rangers-branded clothing – including training wear and replica kit – over a longer period.
Elite and JD applied for leniency during the CMA’s investigation and confessed to cartel activity, the watchdog said.
Michael Grenfell, executive director of enforcement at the CMA, said: "Football fans are well-known for their loyalty towards their teams.
"We are concerned that, in this case, Elite, JD Sports and, to some extent, Rangers, may have colluded to keep prices high, so that the two retailers could pocket more money for themselves at the expense of fans."
The Scottish Premiership club said they would review the provisional findings before submitting a response.
"The statement of objections represents the CMA's provisional view only. It is not a finding that Rangers has broken the law and does not mean that the CMA will issue a final decision or impose a fine on Rangers.
"Rangers is committed to operating its business in full compliance with all laws, including competition law, and treats this matter very seriously."
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