Weeks after the first reports started coming in of Sevco fans in uproar over the poor quality of their new kits, the crisis at Castore shows no signs of abating.
Indeed, the longer it goes on the worse it appears to get, and every day there’s a new revelation.
Club 1872 have released a fuming second statement today after Castore and the club blatantly ignored the questions from the first statement.
Sevco forums are filled with people furiously screaming for their money back.
People are vowing never to spend another penny with Castore again.
If you were being totally dispassionate you’d have to doubt that the Liverpool firm can turn this around.
Too many people feel not so much let down as ripped off, and when you read some of their stories it really isn’t difficult to work out why they do.
Sevco fans tolerate a lot. Their club treats them like mugs, with a regularity that must be depressing to even the most avid fan.
This is a whole other order of magnitude though.
Some of Castore’s early business practices have been shady to say the least.
But it’s worse than that. Because the fans are furious that the club hasn’t stood up for them on this matter. That is hardly surprising when you consider that there are still a lot of unanswered questions over the role played by Mike Ashley.
Reports on the Sevco fan forums confirm something that Phil, myself and some others suspected.
He seems to have no problem getting his hands on the better quality kit.
That does not suggest that he’s been cut out as much as it suggests he’s right at the heart of the whole operation, and amazingly he has avoided taking any of the flak for the disaster.
Sevco fans who would never have considered spending money at one of his outlets are now reporting that they have because Ashley seems to have a more regular supply and the quality is not as suspect as the lottery of ordering online from elsewhere.
Even their dumbest fans are starting to put two and two together on this one.
The latest developments involve the Ibrox shop, which appears to be stocking only certain items and isn’t very well set up. Castore making a mess is one thing, but this is their own in-house operation and it, too, is having trouble on the supply side.
Which simply should not happen if the operation is even semi-professional.
On top of that, Castore have been rocked by two brand new scandals; the first is that they promised the Pro-kits were going to be available on general release within days … that was more than fortnight ago and they aren’t out yet.
This has led Ibrox fans to suspect that they lied about this to get through the period where the online rage was at its highest.
And the forums are also circulating a video where Tom Heaton, one of the founders of Castore, had promised the fans that all the shirts would be made in Portugal, where their high-end items are produced. This, of course, has already been broken with strips made in Turkey and others in China and the announcement, of a fortnight ago, that this would remain the arrangement.
Additionally, there are issues over fans trying to get refunds; some are waiting weeks and many have opened grievances with their banks or with PayPal, and they are sharing the details all over social media. This is a PR disaster for all involved.
Castore and the club tried to combat these perceptions by issuing invites to “select supporters and supporters groups” … but they forgot (or didn’t want to) invite Club 1872 itself, by far the largest of the Sevco fan organisations. A deliberate snub for their angry press release, or an attempt to keep them from scrutinising the deal?
A bit of both, I suspect.
What a mess it is.
If this was any other support you wouldn’t have the slightest trouble mustering a degree of sympathy, but they make it impossible to do.
We had warned them that Castore were full of it, that the club was lying and that Mike was still involved.
We had no special knowledge, no magical powers … we simply knew where to look, starting with the history.
It’s hard not to conclude that they are getting what they deserve.
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