Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct has failed to get an injunction against Newcastle United to stop the football club’s exclusive kit deal with rival sports retailer JD Sports.

Sports Direct, Newbridge

Sports Direct lost its claim for an injunction and £1.5m damages

The Competition Appeals Tribunal rejected Sports Direct’s plea for an injunction to stop Newcastle United’s exclusive kit deal with JD Sports. 

Sports Direct, which is owned by former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, had claimed the football club “misused its dominant position” by refusing to provide the retailer with the team’s 2024/25 kit, instead granting “exclusive rights” to JD Sports.

The football club’s kit is currently made by Manchester-based Castore, but it has signed a new partnership with Adidas for the next season.

Ruling in favour of the football team, the judgement said: “To suggest that there was some obligation on Newcastle United FC and Adidas to ensure in their arrangements (i.e. between the Club and Adidas) that supply to Sports Direct be maintained over time represents a significant fetter on competition, not an enhancement of it.”

The retailer had been seeking an injunction as well as £1.5m worth of damages, as company lawyers claimed that preventing any competition from selling cheaper shirts would harm fans and result in a loss of “substantial” sales, footfall and reputation for Sports Direct.

Ashley sold Newcastle United to a Saudi-led consortium for £305m in 2021 and is in a legal dispute with current Newcastle director Amanda Staveley, who owns a 10% stake in the club alongside other investors including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.