As Rangers launch a new era of retail operations alongside Castore, there was always going to be a few hiccups along the way.

For a support used to debacle after debacle when it comes to something as simple as buying a strip – a luxury supporters at other clubs take for granted – it’s no surprise.

Rangers signed a landmark deal with the Liverpool-based premium sportswear company earlier in the year which is said to be worth £25m for the Ibrox club.

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Rangers fans by-and-large love the new Castore kit and are excited to invest in the club’s retail operations once again, despite some early hiccups. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

But more than just be a valuable deal with this emerging sportswear brand, it also wrestled back control of the club’s retail from the paws of one Mike Ashley.

Make no mistake, this is a landmark moment for Rangers, a time of celebration for supporters who for the best part of a decade have been hamstrung by the billionaire and Sports Direct.

Fans – for the first time since the events of 2012 – are truly free to invest their hard-earned dosh in merchandise of the highest quality, knowing the club will directly benefit.

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But the entire Castore revolution in Govan – which will also see a £250k renovation of the previously boycotted Rangers Megastore at Ibrox – has not been without its ups and downs.

Much of this has to do with a suspicious Rangers support who’ve grown tired of court cases and false dawns and are all too familiar with getting stung after getting themselves excited.

The Hummel deal ended up one hell of an Elite mess after Sports Direct were handed retail rights through a first option agreement, with the club having to go to court to recoup £3m from the Danes.

Mike Ashley and Sports Direct – largely fuelled by rumours by our old pals across the city – were then claimed to be big investors in Castore.

Castore have expanded their retail operations across sport, signing partnerships with the likes of tennis legend Andy Murray. Rangers are the brand’s first football club partner. (Photo by Darren Gerrish/WireImage)

This wasn’t helped by Sports Direct trolling the Ibrox club about exclusively holding the kit from 1st August or the home top showing up for pre-order from Ashley owned House of Fraser.

Castore co-founder Tom Beahon could not have been clearer about the fact Ashley has nothing to do with the sportswear company in an interview with Four Lads Had a Dream.

 

“There are only so many times or ways I can say that before people believe me,” explains Beahon.

Rangers also explained that “for the avoidance of doubt” this is a partnership between the club and Castore, with the likes of Ashley’s Sports Direct or anyone else free to buy the kit from either Rangers or Castore.

But it is completely up to Rangers fans whether they choose to buy them from the Newcastle United owner.

It was an avoidable palpitation for the average Gers fan and the fact that Sports Direct would be receiving strips could’ve probably been handled better.

Nonetheless, Rangers fans (50,000 odd of them) answered Castore’s call and pre-ordered the new kit, with the promise seemingly being they’d be delivered on 1st August in time to play Aberdeen.

Olympique Lyonnais v Rangers FC - Veolia Trophy

Rangers fans snapped up the home kit pre-order but it was not delivered as expected on the 1st of August, meaning fans could’ve walked into a store stocking the top and bought it on the day. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

But – like everything related to the retail of Rangers – things did not necessarily go to plan.

The tops are still in the post and won’t be delivered to excited fans until some point next week. This one included.

It naturally got some supporters uptight, with the club’s supporters splashing out despite all the backdrop and at the very root of it, as always, simply desperate to wear the kit of the club they love.

It’s the latest bump in a rocky road to some sort of normality in the club’s retail operations, with many of the club’s fans still nursing bruises from the last set of potholes.

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Despite the hiccups, Castore have done a great job with the Rangers kits and also launched the club’s away kit on the opening day victory over Aberdeen at Pittodrie. (Photo by Andrew Milligan / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW MILLIGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

But the Ibrox club’s fans have waited long enough for the club to break free of the shackles of Mike Ashley – as frustrating as it sounds – perhaps we can wait a tiny bit longer.

Despite all the trepidation, there is a growing hope that this bumpy backstreet in Rangers’ history is going to be successfully navigated once and for all.

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