Rangers 'surprised' as new kit is set to hit shelves
Rangers' new replica kits are set to go on sale despite the club saying it has had no input amid a continuing dispute with Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley.
Rangers have reacted with surprise and disappointment after it emerged replica strips had been manufactured by Puma for sale.
Retailer Greaves Sports in Glasgow said the strips would be going on sale on Thursday morning and they are expected to be on sale at Ashley's Sports Direct chain, although stores would not confirm.
The club have been trying to end their relationship with Sports Direct, which was established when Rangers shareholder Ashley held influence and had allies on the Ibrox board. The contract with Rangers Retail Limited (RRL) reportedly earns the club just four pence from every pound spent on merchandise.
Rangers triggered the seven-year notice period required to cancel ties to Sports Direct earlier this year and took further steps in May to terminate the intellectual property licence and rights agreement with RRL with immediate effect.
A club statement read: "Since terminating the IP licence and rights agreement with Rangers Retail Limited, the club has made its best efforts to engage with Puma on an agreed way forward without the involvement of Sports Direct for the manufacture of replica kits and other merchandise to supporters.
"During discussions it emerged that Puma had manufactured some replica kit after receiving purchase orders directly from Sports Direct and without the prior knowledge or agreement of the club and its directors on the Rangers Retail Limited board, Paul Murray and David King.
"Despite requests to Sports Direct and Puma we have not been able to ascertain full details of this arrangement or to reconcile it with the commercial contracts that were in place between the club and Rangers Retail Limited.
"The club has not been party to discussions on the launch of kit sales by Puma this week. We were first notified of their intentions after close of business on Friday last week.
"We are surprised and disappointed by the lack of consultation with the club and/or supporters groups prior to the launch."
RRL is part-owned by the club and Sports Direct, further complicating the situation.
Rangers chairman King, who was unsuccessfully sued by Ashley for contempt of court over a confidentiality agreement relating to the retail deal, confirmed last month that the club owned all Rangers trademarks and brands.
King also said that Ashley had suddenly resigned as a director of RRL "rather than work with me".
Puma is aware of the Rangers statement but has made no comment.
The official Rangers fans' group, Club 1872, urged fans to boycott the new kits.
A statement read: "It is absolutely clear from the statement issued by Rangers that the situation regarding official Rangers merchandise has not been resolved to their satisfaction."