John Ashley, brother of Sports Direct founder and CEO Mike Ashley, has been underpaid £11m by the retailer, a new report has found.
Sports Direct’s legal advisers RPC were asked by the company’s board to conduct a review of what payment John Ashley, head of IT, had received by the business since it floated in 2007.
The report concluded that if John Ashley had been treated equally with other senior executives who helped to build the company, he would have received additional remuneration payments totalling £11m, which he was denied because of concerns at the time about public relations.
Independent shareholders are being asked to vote at Sports Direct’s General Meeting on 13 December on a resolution to pay John Ashley the money. The board, including Mike Ashley, will abstain from the vote, although they are supportive of the resolution.
Mike Ashley said: “I intend to voluntarily abstain from the vote on whether or not John should receive the money that he would otherwise have earned at Sports Direct if he were not my brother. I fully expect that independent shareholders will vote against this proposal due to the passage of time involved, although in my opinion, technically the money is owed and therefore should be paid.
“It’s important for me to say that if John had owed one pound to Sports Direct, I would have ensured any sum was repaid in full. I hope shareholders will therefore be reassured that everything is in order and that any concerns are laid to rest.”