Friday, August 6, 1999 Published at 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Business: Your Money
Clubs rapped over kit sales
The sale of kits is big business for football clubs
The Office of Fair Trading has accused some top football clubs of fixing high prices for replica kits.
Now its Director General, John Bridgeman, has banned manufacturers from threatening to stop supplying retailers who sell the kits at a discount.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigated the £210m market after complaints from retailers that they were not allowed to sell merchandise at a discount.
The Football Association, the English Premier League clubs and the Scottish FA have now given assurances that licensing contracts will enable retailers to offer replica kits at a discount.
Mr Bridgeman said his investigation had found that some big football clubs actively encouraged price maintenance.
"We also have conclusive evidence that some Premier League clubs have encouraged manufacturers to prevent discounting.
"In doing this they have not themselves breached the law - because they are not considered to be suppliers - but any involvement in price maintenance is totally unacceptable."
The average replica shirt for an adult costs about £40, and a full kit £55. Some estimates suggest this is five or six times the cost of manufacture.
"For far too long the clubs have been getting away with murder, and it's taken something like this to stop them," he said.
"This is excellent news for the game and for supporters, who will no longer have to pay the prices set by the clubs."
'Artificially high prices'
"I have no doubt that both supporters and parents have been paying artificially high prices," he said.
"Retailers are now free to set their own prices and I hope that we will soon see a variety of discounts.
"Parents and fans can encourage this by shopping around and raising questions about prices which are the same wherever they go" added Mr Bridgeman.
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