It spread initially as a rumour on social media before sports retailers began posting messages that they would be selling the new Rangers kits from Thursday morning.
That news sent a buzz through the Rangers fans online with some believing that they had stuck two fingers up to Sportsdirect and its owner Mike Ashley in the process. But in a ‘cruel’ twist of fate Mike Ashley, Sportsdirect and PUMA were actually behind the kit launch rather than the Ibrox side.
It took Rangers until Wednesday afternoon to release a statement on the kit launch, some five days after they were notified of the plans to sell the new kits.
Rangers issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon, it 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.”
Rangers will play in the new kit this season as part of their commercial deal with Puma, while the fans look to continue their boycott.
A Club 1872 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. As a result, we would urge supporters not to purchase the official kit from ANY outlets where it goes on sale.
“It has been clear for some time that Sports Direct continue to treat both our football club and our supporters with utter contempt.
“It is extremely disappointing to see Puma follow suit by making this season’s kit available for sale without reaching a satisfactory agreement with Rangers.
“We have been used to this type of behaviour from Sports Direct and Mike Ashley but it now appears Puma are following suit.
“They have made no attempt to consider the views of Rangers supporters and no attempt to engage with their customers over a deal that they are an integral part of.”