Rangers FC Refuse to Wear Scottish Premiership Sleeve Patch Due to Sponsor Conflict

There’s drama unfolding in the Scottish Premiership, and it’s having an effect on one club’s kits.

In most European soccer leagues, a league patch is applied to one sleeve of each club’s jerseys. But, since the beginning of the 2021-22 season, Glasgow-based Rangers FC have refused to wear a Scottish Premiership sleeve patch due to the inclusion of the league’s presenting sponsor.

Cinch is a U.K.-based online car sales company that signed a five-year, £8 million deal in June 2021 to be the title sponsor of the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL). Part of the deal was the inclusion of the Cinch logo on league sleeve patches.

Robert Bridge (left), chief customer officer of Cinch, and Neil Doncaster (right), chief executive of the SPFL, pose with the Scottish Premiership trophy during the announcement of Cinch’s deal to be the title sponsor of the SPFL. (Photo courtesy cinch.co.uk)
Graphic courtesy Wikipedia

However, Rangers FC chairman Douglas Park owns a group of car dealerships himself. Because of this, the club is citing a rule in the SPFL handbook that states they do not have to enter into a sponsorship contract “if to do so would result in that club being in breach of a contractual obligation entered into prior to the commercial contract concerned.” They are also refusing to name a Cinch-sponsored man of the match and to display Cinch branding on advertising boards around their stadium.

Rangers had not worn the league patch in any of their seven Scottish Premiership matches up to Sept. 25, including their first matchup against bitter crosstown rivals Celtic FC in August.

The Scotsman reports that Rangers brass raised their concerns with the SPFL before the contract with Cinch was signed, but the league went ahead with it anyway. They also report that Rangers are unhappy that the SPFL is paying an agency £500,000 over five years for negotiating the deal.

In August, SPFL officials had referred the dispute to the Scottish Football Association for independent arbitration, but Park and his group won a court order to prevent that arbitration from going ahead.

“The Executive of the SPFL [is] required to carry out effective due diligence before entering into its contract with the new league sponsor,” read a statement on Rangers’ website after the ruling was handed down. “Instead, an inadequate and antagonistic approach appears to have been adopted; one that it is hard to imagine is in the best interests of the SPFL’s member clubs.”

Strangely, though, the Glasgow Times reported last week that Cinch had been negotiating with Rangers as late as June 2021 to acquire the naming rights to Ibrox Stadium, where Rangers play their home matches.

A panoramic view of Ibrox Stadium, home of Rangers FC. (Photo by Brian Aitkenhead – https://www.flickr.com/photos/applebear1976/6957982980/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24219590)

It is unclear what the next steps in this dispute will be, but we’ll be keeping a keen eye out to see if the sleeve patches show up on Rangers kits anytime soon.

Feature photo courtesy Rangers.co.uk