JD Sport has found itself in the crosshairs of the UK’s competition watchdog once again for breaking competition laws alongside football club Leicester City FC.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said Wednesday it has provisionally found that JD Sports and Leicester City FC “colluded to restrict competition in the sales of Leicester City-branded clothing, including replica kit, in the UK”.
It said both parties admitted to breaking competition law over three football seasons.
According to the CMA, JD Sports reported the illegal conduct and admitted its participation in the alleged conduct by way of a leniency application. It will not receive a fine “provided that it continues to co-operate and to comply with the other conditions of the CMA’s leniency policy”.
Meanwhile, Leicester City FC and its parent companies have agreed to pay a fine under the CMA’s settlement policy of a maximum 880,000 pounds.
Michael Grenfell, executive director of enforcement at the CMA, said in a statement: “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.”
Responding to the CMA’s announcement, JD Sports noted that it brought the conduct to the CMA's attention in January 2021 and has “cooperated fully” with the CMA throughout its investigation.
It added that “no current or former directors or senior management of JD were involved in the offending conduct, which took place in 2018-2021”.
This isn’t the first time JD Sports has found itself in trouble with the CMA. Last September, the sportswear giant was fined 1.5 million pounds for fixing the prices fans paid for Rangers FC merchandise.
The CMA found that the retailer, alongside Elite Sports, fixed the retail prices of “a number” of Rangers-branded replica kits and other clothing products from September 2018 to July 2019.
JD Sports said at the time that it had since “taken a number of steps to strengthen its competition compliance programme and is committed to ensuring that this is embedded into its daily operations”.