Over the weekend, Rangers ended weeks of speculation by announcing Castore as the club’s kit and retail supplier from the start of the 2020/21 season [Rangers.co.uk]
After years of legal cases and unsuccessful partnerships, the Gers wanted to turn over a new leaf while Castore were looking to burst into the football market.
When the club’s commercial and marketing director, James Bisgrove, put out the call for applications back in February, plenty wanted a globally recognised name like Adidas to step in.
After all, they made some iconic Rangers strips in the 90s.
Yet, there was apparently no approach from the German brand. Instead, Adidas linked up with Celtic in a five-year deal said to be worth around £30 million [Scottish Herald].
The Hoops’ contract is no doubt going to be lucrative – but what is unique about it? Celtic will benefit from being paired with a well-oiled industry giant but they will also become just another name on the Adidas’ huge client list.
In contrast, Rangers are taking a risk by heading into the relative unknown and backing a British newcomer to deliver the goods. In doing so, they are attempting something different and taking the first steps towards what could develop into a one-of-a-kind relationship.
Every Gers fan will have googled ‘Castore’ after the rumours started. Who are they? Where are they based? What other teams do they work with? What do their products look like?
At that point, there were relatively few column inches and articles devoted to the brand. What was available then and what has emerged since, though, is impressive.
The founders, Tom and Phil Beahon, are articulate and extremely ambitious. They have made it clear that they are aware of the tasks ahead of them but are confident that they and their employees are up to the challenge of satisfying the Rangers fan base.
It is asserted that all Castore products are made from the very best materials and are specifically designed to allow athletes to perform at their optimum level.
This may well be reflected in the pricing of merchandise but if the designs lead to marginal gains on the pitch, few will complain.
It has been suggested by Tom Beahon that as the company is ‘digitally native’, it is better placed to cope with the global health crisis than many others [Rangers.co.uk], while, crucially, as Castore’s first footballing client, Rangers will receive undivided attention.
Whether it be the kit designs themselves or the logistics around the retail operation, this is the opportunity for the Beahon brothers to show they are ready, so they will be motivated to ensure nothing goes off-script.
Finally, while Castore’s investors are keen to keep a low profile, it is widely asserted that the brand has significant backing and James Bisgrove is very confident that financially, this is a major breakthrough for the club.
There is no doubt that Rangers have taken a risk with this partnership and until the kits are unveiled and successfully sold in their thousands, judgement must, to an extent, be reserved.
Yet, taking the easy route rarely produces spectacular results and the early signs suggest that the Gers’ leap of faith could well pay off.