Congratulations to Fraser Forster on his international call-up, I am absolutely delighted for him. It occurred to me that he left Sports Direct and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley’s clutches on the cheap early this summer, while Ashley had other matters in Glasgow under consideration – partnering with Sevco.
It was with customary bombast that Sir David Murray announced the deal Rangers struck with JJB Sports in 2006 to offload the club’s retail and merchandise operations to the sports retailer. At a stroke the club banked £18m although subsequent dilapidation and redundancy costs ate into this figure. Celtic had previously rejected a similar deal, believing that securitising future revenue streams in this manner would only swap short-term for long-term problems.
That deal perished when Rangers liquidation was announced but the Newco acquired only one retail store (outside Ibrox) and no infrastructure in place. Instead, six weeks ago, Newco handed over retail operations to Sports Direct, who now operate its retail company, Rangers Retail Limited, and its online operation at rangersdirect.co.uk.
This deal was covered in local and retail press but lacked the bombast Murray would have brought to the occasion, perhaps because Ashley was aware that Celtic fans no longer felt comfortable spending their cash with JJB after the 2006 link-up. Better to keep this one low-profile so as not to cannibalise sales to Celtic fans.
Whether Ashley is part-owner of Newco or just their merchandising partner is moot, Sports Direct’s interests in the Scottish market are significantly entwined with The Rangers F.C.
It is unlikely the retailer had to pay as much as £18m up front to secure his new rights but their support will be absolutely critical in quickly building their partner club into a successful force. If they can do this while continuing to milk Celtic supporters they have knocked it off.
Chances of me buying the 125th Anniversary Kit from Sevco’s partner company are approaching zero. My Celtic budget is for the benefit of one club only, it will not help build The Rangers.[calameo code=000390171e0be5eb5e6ce lang=en page=2 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]