Mike Ashley: I have been stabbed in the back

PA

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has launched a furious attack in his studio all the shareholders that accuses them of stabbing him and the company in the back.

He said that the shareholders failed to support him and the president, Keith Hellawell, who resigned Wednesday.

Mr Ashley has denounced the “media circus” surrounding the company and said, “real entrepreneurs” would never be accepted.

Mr Hellawell resigned after it emerged he was unlikely to be re-elected at the firm’s annual meeting.

In his statement, Mr Ashley has said that the shareholders “has made it extremely difficult for a future engagement to take place”.

He continued: “on the one hand I am happy with our performance and the progress, but with the other hand you have stabbed him Live Sport and me in the back repeatedly to harass Keith Hellawell.”

Mr Hellawell, the decision to resign from the board of directors followed last year’s meeting where he was re-elected by only 53% of the independent shareholders. He had said that he would get off at the next annual meeting if he has not won their support.

The former chief constable of West Yorkshire Police had faced criticism about the way Sports Direct has been performed.
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Mr Ashley added: “it is patently obvious that the true entrepreneurs will never be accepted in the public arena.

“The media circus that surrounds Sports Direct, including, but not limited to issues related to our AGM, it just proves that any progress of Live Sports makes, will always be subject to control and disproportionate to the false statements.”‘Above and beyond

Mr Ashley said he had “gone above-and-beyond”, to “rebuild the reputation of Sports Direct in the City”, which had been sullied by scandals centering on the working conditions at its Derbyshire headquarters.

“These results have been widely recognized, and has been recognized by a number of independent indices that the reputation of Sports Direct has been improved in a significant way,” he said.

Mr. Ashley complained that “despite this progress”, the shareholders seemed to be affected by “the pressure of the media and of some other organisations”.

More recently, Mr Ashley has attracted further media attention in connection with his plans for the revival of House of Fraser, the department store chain, which Sports Direct bought for £90m last month after it collapsed into administration.

Mr. Ashley said in conclusion: “The people inside of the Sports Direct group, including House of Fraser, are and will continue to be my number one priority.”