JJB to compensate price-fixing victims

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The Independent Online

JJB Sports has agreed to compensate football fans short-changed by its role in a cartel organised to fix the price of replica shirts.

The announcement follows action by Which?, the consumer organisation, to issue legal proceedings against the sporting goods retailer for money owed to customers who were overcharged for certain England and Manchester United football shirts in 2000 and 2001.

The company said that the two sides had reached a settlement under whose terms it will make a payment of £20 per shirt to each of the around 600 fans who had joined the suit. Fans who failed to the join the action will also be compensated, at a reduced rate of £10 per shirt if they have proof of payment and a relevant shirt with the label still intact, or £5 if the shirt does not have the original label. The agreement covers Manchester United home shirts, centenary shirts and England home or away shirts.

The Office of Fair Trading fined JJB, Manchester United, Umbro, the FA and the now insolvent Allsports for fixing the price of the shirts in 2003. Last year, following JJB's failure to win an appeal against the penalties, Which? went to the Competition Appeal Tribunal on behalf of affected customers. Yesterday's settlement appears to conclude the long-running saga.

Deborah Prince, head of legal at Which?, said JJB had also agreed to pay reasonable costs towards the case.

"The agreement reached with JJB Sports is a good deal for the hundreds of consumers who purchased football shirts and joined our case against JJB," she said. "Many of those who purchased the relevant shirts still have the whole of next year to take their shirt or proof of purchase into a JJB store."

JJB said that another offer, which allowed a free England away shirt and mug to customers who still had one of the relevant replica shirts, would bewithdrawn as a result ofthis settlement.