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Rangers kit and retail deal to spearhead Castore move into football

(Ian MacNicol/AFP via Getty Images)

Scottish Premiership side Rangers has agreed a long-term kit supply and retail agreement with Castore, the UK-based sportswear brand that moved into sports sponsorship last year in a deal with Scottish tennis star Andy Murray.

Rangers announced in February that it was going to market with its kit supply and retail rights from the 2020-21 season onwards, despite its agreement with incumbents Hummel, the Danish sportswear brand, and Elite, the UK-based sportswear retail firm, having another season to run.

Castore is now understood to have agreed a long-term deal with the Glasgow club and an announcement will be made in due course.

Issuing a ‘commercial update’ on Saturday, Rangers said that it will “begin the 2020-21 football season with a new kit and retail operations partner, following the conclusion of all existing contracts”.

James Bisgrove, Rangers’ director of commercial and marketing, said: “The club is incredibly excited to introduce its new kit and retail partner to Rangers supporters world-wide imminently. This represents a clean slate and marks the start of a new era in the club’s commercial retail operations. The partnership will be a significant step forward in Rangers’ recent history.”

Rangers’ stadium megastore is to undergo what the club described as a “significant renovation” over the summer to pave the way for the sale of the new kit.

In February, Castore raised £7.5m (€8.5m/$9.3m) in private investment to help its expansion into team sports, including football. This followed a three-year kit deal with Cricket West Indies.

Castore first rose to prominence through its long-term kit sponsorship deal with Murray, who himself had a trial at Rangers as a schoolboy. Under the deal, Murray became a shareholder in Castore and an advisor to the board.

The Liverpool-based Castore was founded in 2016 after Tom and Phil Beahon decided to ditch professional sport for the apparel business. Previously, the brothers players at Liverpool, Manchester United and Tranmere Rovers in the academy teams.

Rangers’ search for a new kit and retail partner has been set against the background of lengthy legal disputes with retailer Sports Direct Group.

Hummel was announced as Rangers’ kit supplier in April 2018 as it teamed up with Elite in an agreement that was due to run from 2018-19 to 2020-21.

As part of that deal, Hummel also became the naming rights sponsor of Rangers’ training ground. At the time of the kit deal, Hummel succeeded rival Puma, which had signed a five-year contract with Rangers in 2013.

Under the Hummel-Elite agreement, Elite was required to pay an annual fee plus royalty payments to Rangers (based on kit sales). The annual base fee was £2m for the purchase of up to 100,000 kits.

In February, Rangers served proceedings on Elite for the payment of £2.84m plus interests and expenses under the terms of the tripartite agreement covering the manufacture and supply of kit and other products.

This came in the wake of a High Court ruling confirming that the Glasgow club was entitled to be paid the money. This overruled an injunction that had been filed by Sports Direct Group, which has been embroiled in a legal battle with Rangers over a “matching right” clause.

Despite the retail agreement in place between Rangers and Elite, the club shop at Ibrox Stadium has continued to be operated by Sports Direct due to its ongoing legal tussle with the club, meaning that fans have been unable to buy the Hummel kit at the stadium megastore.

Similarly, the official Rangers website has not promoted the sale of Hummel’s kit by Elite, which instead operates stores in the centre of Glasgow and Belfast.