Sevco has tonight announced on its website that it will be seeking a new kit manufacturer for next season.
This makes official what we already knew; the Hummel deal is dead in the water although it still has a year to run.
The announcement says they are seeking a new partner or partners in their kit manufacturing and merchandising sectors.
They put the best possible gloss on this, as I’m sure the media will, using terms like “pleased to confirm” and talk of exciting times … in fact, this is a stunning and potentially ruinous development, wherein they’ve lost their shirt manufacturer and their retail partners over the course of the Mike Ashley contract showdown in court.
Only at Ibrox could they even try to spin this as a victory.
This stuff tends to happen when your commercial wing is such an outrageous shambles that your former partners are taking you to court for breach of contract, your current partners are withholding cash from you as they contemplate their own legal challenges and you, in turn, are boasting about how a high court judge has lifted an injunction to let you sue them.
Doubtless, whatever deal they come up with will be glorified as a work of genius.
In fact, which firm with a reputation it wanted to keep would consider doing business with this shower?
The last two deals have ended in calamity. Puma were banned from selling shirts after the full details of the Ashley standoff became known, and couldn’t wait to sever the links with Ibrox. Hummel came along and at least offered them a lifeline. That, too, went belly up.
Sevco’s long-standing battles with Ashley aren’t even over yet; he still retains the deadly ability to offer “matching rights” over the parts of any retail deal another company is willing to grant. That, by itself, would have deterred a lot of the big guns from getting involved because of the likelihood of a standoff between Sports Direct and the fans … the double shambles of Puma and Hummel’s deals collapsing will be a further disincentive to get involved.
The club is taking Elite to court over what they claim are non-payements; it is just as likely as not that Elite and Hummel will counter-sue as a result of the deal collapsing like this.
On top of that, this is another bit of honking PR.
It may be that the memory isn’t great, but Celtic has never had to advertise “opportunities” like this.
When one Celtic shirt deal is about to end we usually announce a bumper new one to replace it, and on more generous terms. A club which puts up a flier like this, offering its business so publicly like a hooker on a street corner, is already in dire straits.
This one won’t have Adidas and Nike clamouring for the contract, unless on terms which are vastly more favourable to the manufacturers than with the club, and one that will probably have written into it some pretty hefty penalty provisions. I don’t believe any major firm is going to take this lot on. They might even end up in a place where they are manufacturing their own strips as Rangers once did … distributing them would be another story, of course.
As many of us have said over the years, the fallout from the Ashley fiasco is long-term and perhaps even permanent. Sevco is a club which finds itself in court more often than a mafia family, with a convicted crook still at the helm, a man who got Cold Shouldered last year. They don’t respect contracts or partnerships. They can’t be trusted to play it straight.
They are gonna have a hell of a job filling this hole.