RANGERS have ended their merchandising agreement with JJB Sports as the club moves towards a joint venture with billionaire Mike Ashley's Sports Direct chain.

Both Rangers and Sports Direct are expected to agree such a merchandising venture by midweek.

The Herald revealed this month that Newcastle United owner Mr Ashley was in talks with Rangers chief executive Charles Green about buying a stake of up to 10% in the club and forming a joint venture to sell its replica kit through his Sports Direct stores.

Mr Green, confirming the talks two days later, highlighted hopes of bringing £5 million to £10m a year into the club through such a deal.

JJB's tie-up with Rangers began in 2006 under Sir David Murray's ownership, when a 10-year licence was granted to design, develop, source and retail all Rangers merchandise.

The arrangement with Sports Direct is expected to be more of a profit-sharing deal, with Rangers retaining more control of its merchandising operations than it did under the JJB deal which brought in £18m upfront, and £3m a year.

Confirming the end of JJB Sports' merchandising arrangements with Rangers, a JJB spokesman told The Herald: "Following the administration of RFC 2012 plc [formerly the Rangers Football Club plc] on 14 February 2012, The Rangers Football Club Ltd and JJB Sports plc can ... confirm they have reached agreement on the terms of a settlement agreement regarding the future licensing and manufacturing of the Rangers football kit.

"Pursuant to the terms of the settlement agreement, JJB has agreed to transfer to RFC the operation of the Rangers retail megastore at Ibrox Stadium in Glasgow and the right to all trademarks and licence to manufacture the Rangers football kit."

The JJB spokesman confirmed that, while JJB will continue to stock the Rangers' football kit for the duration of the 2012/2013 season, the transfer of the club's retail megastore and of the "right to all trademarks and licence to manufacture the Rangers football kit" had taken place with immediate effect.

While JJB had continued to work with Rangers' new owners on merchandising, following the £5.5m purchase of the club's assets from liquidation in June by a consortium led by Mr Green, sources had indicated a belief that the original deal would have lapsed with the liquidation.

Both Rangers and Sports Direct declined to comment yesterday.