Football kit supplier deals – lessons for clubs on “matching rights” from the Sports Direct v Rangers FC case
For the everyday fan, football kits are more than just a uniform worn by their team during a particular season. They represent part of their club’s identity – its colours, its badge, its tradition. Despite the ever-increasing cost involved, fans still queue up to get their hands on their team’s latest strip every year and the revenue generated by those sales represents big business for both the clubs and the kit suppliers. The supply of these replica kits is usually governed by a kit licencing agreement, designed to protect the respective interests of the club and kit supplier. The agreements and the mechanisms for their renewal can be very technical and, as Rangers FC found out last year, can lead to costly legal disputes.
This article examines the Rangers case1, scrutinising in particular the role that first right of refusal (or “matching right”) clauses play in kit licencing agreements, before considering the broader implications of the High Court’s judgment for both clubs and kit suppliers accordingly.
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- Tags: Commercial Law | Contract Law | Dispute Resolution | Football | Kit Licensing Agreements | United Kingdom (UK)
About the Author
Solicitor, Stevens & Bolton
Andrew is an Associate in the Commercial Litigation team at Stevens & Bolton LLP, where he advises clients on a variety of contentious matters, ranging from High Court litigation to everyday contractual disputes. He is also a member of the firm’s Sports Group.
Andrew qualified in Scotland in 2016, having trained at Shepherd + Wedderburn LLP and prior to undertaking his traineeship, read Law at the University of Edinburgh. He made the move south upon qualification, joining a commercial firm in north London before joining Stevens & Bolton in 2018.
Andrew is a keen tennis (Andy Murray) fan and, thanks to his father, is also a long-suffering Falkirk FC fan.