It is not a good look when your retail partner is fined after admitting colluding to fix the price of football merchandise. JD Retail, Celtic’s partner, were fined £1.485m when they colluded with kit manufacturer Elite Sports and Newco Rangers to fix the price of merchandise sold to Newco fans. I have received assurances that nothing like this has ever happened at Celtic.
The Competition and Markets Authority, who discounted the fines levied on all three organisations as each pled guilty, found that Newco “became concerned” that fans were able to buy “Rangers” kit cheaper there than at the Elite Sports operated Gers Online and physical shops in Glasgow and Belfast. It does not appear any other clubs’ kit was involved in similar collusion.
JD said, “No directors or senior management of JD were involved in the offending conduct”, otherwise I am sure heads would roll. Elite and Newco have yet to make similar statements. It is hard to imagine any other UK club breaking the law in this manner, but this matter reiterates the need for ethical standards in business at the very top of an organisation.
Football clubs have a right to run retail operations that generate positive income inflows, which helps put a competitive team on the field.
When that drive for a competitive edge leads to law breaking, everyone in the game has something to worry about. You cannot subvert the law of the land to win trophies in Scottish football, how many times, over how many years, do we need to say this?