An investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally found that the sportswear retailer “colluded” with Leicester City FC to restrict competition in sales of the club’s branded clothing over three seasons.

The CMA’s provisional findings revealed that the two parties broke competition law including selling replica kits, price fixing and levying additional delivery charges on all orders of Leicester City-branded clothing on JD Sports’ website as part of the arrangement.

It was found that JD Sports had agreed to stop selling Leicester City-branded clothing online for the 2018/19 season.  

The following year, JD agreed to levy an additional delivery charge on all orders of the football club’s branded clothing, going against JD’s company-wide policy of free online delivery on orders above £70. 

Both parties admitted to the illegal conduct. The CMA did not fine JD Sports because the retailer reported the issue through a “leniency application”. 

JD Sports said it had “brought the conduct to the CMA’s attention in January 2021 and has co-operated fully with the CMA throughout this investigation”. 

The retailer added that “no current or former directors or senior management of JD were involved in the offending conduct, which took place in 2018-21” and since then it has “taken a number of steps to strengthen its competition compliance programme”.

CMA executive director of enforcement Michael Grenfell said: “Strong and unimpeded competition between retailers is essential to consumers’ ability to shop around for the best deals. 

“Football fans are well known for their loyalty towards their teams. 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. 

“The fine that Leicester City FC and its parent companies have agreed to pay sends a clear message to them and other businesses that anti-competitive collusion will not be tolerated.”