Of particular concern in May/June 2000 was the retail price of the England shirt. In March, Sports Soccer were selling the shirt at £28. This was over £10 less than most high-street retailers. In his witness statement, Mr. Chris Ronnie of Umbro explained how, at a meeting in April, agreement was reached with Sports Soccer to retail the England shirt at its recommended retail price of £39.99. Sports Soccer continued to discount the England replica shorts and socks. Mr Ronnie spoke to Mike Ashley in an attempt to get him to stop this discounting. Initially, Ashley refused. Then Mr Ronnie stopped a delivery to Sports Soccer. After this delivery was stopped, Sports Soccer sold socks and shorts at the recommended retail price.
Is it any wonder that Mike Ashley was motivated to blow the whistle on the price-fixing?
On June 20th, England were eliminated from the Euro 2000 tournament. The following day Sports Soccer discounted the England replica shirt to £20. David Butler has written on this blog about the dissatisfaction surrounding the price of the England shirt for this year's World Cup (here). If England are eliminated from this year's competition then similar, or greater, discounting will follow.