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Leicester City Fined For Illegal Business Arrangement With JD Sports

Leicester City FC are to be fined up to £880k after admitting to working together with JD Sports to fix the price of replica kits.

The club have been hit with the fine by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), who have been investigating an arrangement between the club and the sports retailer since September 2021.

Leicester Time: Leicester City Fined For Illegal Business Arrangement With JD Sports
Picture: LCFC

Both LCFC and JD Sports have admitted to acting illegally to fix sales prices over two-and-a-half years, which meant fans “could have ended up paying more than they would otherwise have done”. JD Sports reported the illegal conduct and admitted its participation by way of a leniency application.

The case relates to the following arrangement between Leicester City FC and JD Sports:

*In August 2018, that JD Sports would stop selling Leicester City-branded clothing online for the 2018/19 season

*In January 2019, that JD Sports would not undercut Leicester City in terms of online sales for the 2019/20 season by applying a delivery charge to all orders of Leicester City-branded clothing – disapplying its company-wide promotional offer of free online delivery for all orders over £70

*By July 2020, that JD Sports would continue to apply delivery charges to online orders of Leicester City-branded clothing for the 2020/21 season as well. This continued until at least 26 January 2021

Michael Grenfell, Executive Director of Enforcement at the CMA, said: “Strong and unimpeded competition between retailers is essential to consumers’ ability to shop around for the best deals.

“Football fans are well-known for their loyalty towards their teams. In this case we have provisionally found that Leicester City FC and JD Sports colluded to share out markets and fix prices – with the result that fans may have ended up paying more than they would otherwise have done.

“Both parties have now admitted their involvement, allowing us to bring the investigation to a swift conclusion. The fine that Leicester City FC and its parent companies have agreed to pay sends a clear message to them and other businesses that anti-competitive collusion will not be tolerated.”

In a statement posted on its website, LCFC said that it had co-operated throughout the CMA’s investigation which related to the supply of “limited volumes” of replica kit and branded clothing to JD Sports over the two-and-a-half seasons.

“No current Club directors or senior management were involved in the arrangements with JD Sports,” it added.

“These arrangements related to a limited number of bulk orders by JD Sports, which were accepted by the Club’s retail sales team over the relevant period. There was no intention on the part of the Club to unlawfully restrict the resale of the goods supplied and no material financial advantage to be gained from doing so, given the limited amount of kit supplied to JD Sports.

“However, the Club accepts the CMA’s findings and has taken steps to strengthen its training and compliance measures to ensure the Club’s retail operations fully comply with competition law.”