Sports Direct deputy chairman Mike Ashley has rejected JJB Sports’ version of events surrounding the controversial £1.5m loan he made in 2007 to its chairman Sir David Jones.
Yesterday, JJB Sports said that the loan arrangement had been made before Jones joined JJB Sports, that the group’s directors were aware of the details of the loan, and that there was no conflict of interest.
However, Ashley’s lawyers are understood to be preparing a response claiming that the Jones asked for the loan two days after he had started work at JJB Sports, according to The Times.
The report also says that five of Jones’ current fellow directors were unaware of the loan.
The executives who did know about it, including former chief executive Chris Ronnie, former finance director David Madeley and strategic development director Peter Williams, have since left the business.
The newspaper quoted Ashley as having said: “You can imagine my surprise when David asked me for a loan. He’d been there five minutes and Chris Ronnie was asking me for a loan for him. I though it was a bizzare thing to do.”
However, JJB Sports founder Dave Whelan said that the furore was an attempt to scupper JJB Sports’ chances of raising £50 million to secure the group’s future.
JJB Sports yesterday that it fully supported Jones although he has agreed to pay the loan back as soon as possible to avoid further distractions for the business. The group said it was looking at options, including a rights issue, to raise £50 million for the company.