Questions over apparent links between Rangers’ partners Castore and Ibrox pariah Mike Ashley have circulated over the last few years but after Ashley’s SportsDirect were spotted selling the new Castore-produced Newcastle shirt before it is officially released, it has raised even more eyebrows over a potential link-up.
Newcastle fans have spotted the new kit for sale in stores and online at SportsDirect despite having not officially launched yet and the Magpies fans – who have their own history with Ashley – are demanding answers.
This time last year, Castore were quick to dismiss any suggestion there was any ‘correlation’ between Castore and Mike Ashley, having had similar questions from Rangers fans.
“I know that Newcastle people look at everything through a Mike Ashley lens,” Castore co-founder Tom Beahon told the Athletic.
“But there is no story there. There is no correlation between Castore and Mike Ashley.
The truth is there’s none [no relationship]. Ashley is not a shareholder in Castore. The Rueben Brothers aren’t investors. The answer is definitively no.
“I have all my investors’ numbers, I know them on a first-name basis, and I don’t have Ashley’s number in my phone.
“We’ve partnered with Rangers and Newcastle because of the opportunity, the potential upside, and it’s nothing to do with Ashley.”
However, with SportsDirect now having had Rangers kits on sale ahead of launch and now Newcastle’s ahead of launch, something doesn’t quite fit.
Latest kit leak only raises more suspicion over Castore after years of Rangers fights with Mike Ashley
It could be a coincidence that the only two kits SportsDirect have had on sale were produced by a brand who have been plagued by claims Ashley is in some way involved behind the scenes.
It could also be a coincidence that Castore’s Glasgow store replaced fashion store Jack Wills at 133 Buchanan Street in Glasgow, Jack Wills being ultimately owned by Mike Ashley.
Either way, there needs to be an explanation why Mike Ashley’s stores have managed to be the only ones to have two different Castore-produced kits on sale early.
The fact it happens to two clubs Ashley has a long history with only makes it seem even more peculiar.