Castore to make Premier League bow with Newcastle United
By Jonathan Rest
Castore, the emerging UK sportswear brand, has made its first foray into English soccer’s Premier League, signing a kit supply deal with Newcastle United, Sportcal can exclusively reveal.
The multi-year agreement will commence with the 2021-22 campaign, and is worth around £5 million ($6.45 million) per season.
Calls to both Newcastle and Castore were not returned today.
Castore will replace Puma, the German sportswear giant, which has supplied the north-east club's kit since the summer of 2010 and earlier this year signed a short-term extension running to the end of the 2020-21 season.
Also in the Premier League, Puma kits out Manchester City and Crystal Palace.
Castore broke into sport in January 2019 when it signed up Scottish tennis star Andy Murray in a kit supply deal. Twelve months later it became the kit supplier of the West Indies cricket team in a three-year deal, and just last week made its first entrance into Australia, signing up the Sydney Roosters, of the National Rugby League. Sportcal understands a deal with a soccer club in continental Europe is next on the firm’s radar.However, the Newcastle deal will be viewed as controversial in some quarters considering Castore recently became the kit supplier of Rangers, replacing Danish brand Hummel, but only after the Scottish club ended a long-running feud with Sports Direct, the UK sports equipment retailer owned by Mike Ashley, who also owns Newcastle.
In the wake of that £25 million Rangers deal being announced, also exclusively by Sportcal, Castore founders, brothers Tom and Phil Beahon, moved to vehemently deny reports that Ashley had a stake in the company.
Castore became the official kit supplier, licensing and, importantly, retail partner of Rangers, the latter component having been a particularly delicate subject during negotiations with prospective partners.
Rangers had been mired in a series of legal battles with Ashley’s Sports Direct for much of the last seven seasons over the club’s merchandising rights. Indeed, a poorly weighted retail deal with Sports Direct meant Rangers earned only around 7p to every £1 sold.
In addition, the club shop at Ibrox did not even market the Hummel kit, instead still selling old tops branded with Puma, Rangers' kit supplier from 2013 to 2018.
While Sports Direct had a legal right to match Castore's offer, Tom Beahon revealed in July that "what Sports Direct looked for in order not to exercise their legal right to match was an ability to sell a limited number of Rangers product" in its stores and in House of Fraser, the department store group also owned by Ashley.
That angered some Rangers fans who wanted rid entirely of the Ashley connections.
Beahon explained at the time: "Under our direct partnership between Castore and Rangers, Sports Direct, as well as several other third party retailers, will have the option to purchase from Castore and then the ability to sell Rangers products."Ashley has owned Newcastle since 2007, but has looked to sell the club since 2017 and recently hired law firm Blackstone Chambers in an ongoing dispute with the Premier League over a collapsed takeover earlier this year.
Ashley has asserted that the Premier League was responsible for the withdrawal in July of a £300 million offer from a consortium led by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund PIF, and that the owners and directors test (which all those wishing to be involved in owning a club must pass) was not applied correctly to all of the members of the group.
However, the Premier League maintains that the consortium withdrew before it was asked to make such an assessment.
There were widespread concerns over the deal because of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and the country's harbouring of beoutQ, a pirate broadcaster that has been responsible for the stealing of content from companies including BeIN Media Group, the Premier League rights holder in the Middle East and North Africa.
US and Singapore investors have also been linked with a move for Newcastle.