The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has accused sportswear retailers JD Sports and Elite Sports, as well as Rangers Football Club, of illegally fixing prices.
The regulatory body provisionally found that Elite Sports and JD Sports fixed the retail prices of several Rangers-branded replica kits and other clothing products between September 2018 and July 2019.
In addition, Rangers is said to have fixed the retail price of adult home short-sleeved replica shirts from September 2018 until at least mid-November of that year.
The three parties allegedly colluded to stop JD Sports undercutting the shirt’s retail price on Elite’s Gers Online store.
Under the agreement, JD would raise its price by almost 10%, from £55 ($68.82) to £60 ($75.07), to make the prices similar to those being charged by Elite on Rangers’ website.
The CMA began an investigation into this matter in December 2020.
CMA enforcement executive director Michael Grenfell said: “We don’t hesitate to take action when we have concerns that companies may be working together to keep costs up.
“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 companies can expect to face fines if the CMA’s provisional findings are confirmed.
The market regulator has, however, assured a reduction of any financial penalties if companies continue to cooperate with the investigation.
JD Sports reportedly planned to review the CMA’s findings with its advisers.
Earlier this year, the CMA fined JD Sports and Footasylum almost £5m for breaching merger rules after the two companies’ CEOs exchanged ‘commercially sensitive information’ against an interim order issued during a Phase II merger investigation.