Rangers in fresh merchandise row with Mike Ashley

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.

Bosses at Rangers Football Club are waiting for a High Court judge’s ruling after becoming embroiled in a fresh merchandise deal row with Sports Direct and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.

Less than three months ago, a High Court judge said both sides should “try to make peace”.

In late July, Mr Justice Phillips was told, at a High Court hearing in London, that a dispute over the terms of a deal had settled.

But lawyers representing the two sides were back at the High Court in London on Wednesday, arguing in front of a different judge, after Mr Ashley complained of a recent breach of contract by bosses at Rangers.

Bosses at Rangers dispute the complaint.

The latest judge, Mr Justice Teare, said he would aim to produce a ruling in the near future.

Mr Justice Phillips had heard in July how a deal, which allows a company in the Sports Direct group to sell replica Rangers kits and other branded products, was expiring.

He had been told that bosses at Rangers wanted to sign a new deal with someone else, but SDI Retail Services executives objected and said they should have a chance to match any new offer.

The judge had been due to analyse evidence about the meaning of a contract clause at a trial.

But lawyers representing both sides told him that out-of-court agreements had been made.

The judge said Rangers had accepted claims made by SDI bosses.

He said Rangers and SDI were negotiating another deal, and added: “I would really have thought the time has come to try to make peace.”

The judge was told that more than £500,000 had been spent on lawyers, with SDI running up legal costs of £350,000 and Rangers £185,000.

Mr Justice Phillips said Rangers’ bosses should pick up the vast majority of SDI’s legal bills as well paying their own fees.