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Sports 'rivals' in mystery meeting

Sportswear rivals Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley and JJB boss Chris Ronnie have created a flurry of rumours after holding a mysterious meeting this week.

The duo, who worked together in the past at Sports Direct, are direct competitors since Ronnie bought a stake in JJB and was appointed chief executive of the chain.

At the time of the JJB stake purchase, the pair's relationship was closely scrutinised and JJB sought assurances that Ronnie was not acting on behalf of Ashley.

However this week's meeting at JJB's Wigan head office - which was attended by Ashley, Ronnie and Ashley's right hand man Sean Nevitt - has fuelled speculation that Ashley may be planning to build up his stake in his rival.

In addition both companies have been hit by slow sales of replica football kit, and there are rumours the meeting could have taken place to discuss what to do with excess stock.

However Sports Direct and JJB said the meeting was to discuss the Slazenger brand, which is owned by Sports Direct.

This is the latest twist in the Mike Ashley saga, which began when he floated his Sports Direct chain earlier this year. He has come under fire from city analysts for his maverick approach to dealing with the city and the share price has plummetted.

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