Mike Ashley to abstain from vote on whether his brother should receive £11m underpaid to him by Sports Direct

 
Lucy White
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Mike Ashley said he did not expect shareholders to approve the payment (Source: Getty)

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley is to sit out of a shareholder vote as to whether his brother, John Ashley, should receive an £11m payout owed to him by the company.

The vote, which will be held at a Sports Direct general meeting on 13 December, comes as review by legal adviser RPC found that John Ashley missed out on £11m of pay from Sports Direct due to “concerns about public relations”.

Sports Direct's board ordered the RPC inquiry as questions were raised over John Ashley's remuneration, given his position as the brother of the company's founder and chief executive.

Read more: Sports Direct accounts probe announced by watchdog

“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,” said Mike Ashley in a statement.

“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.”

Sports Direct has had a rocky relationship with its shareholders this year.

Read more: Sports Direct's shareholders gear up for revolt over share buyback plans

In March, one shareholder group was accused by Sports Direct of pushing out “fake news” figures on high pay ratios, after they revealed that Sports Direct had the second-highest ratio of executive-to-average employee pay of any FTSE 350 company.

Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (Pirc), which collated the figures, said that Sports Direct had received several opportunities to review and dispute the figures.

Read more: Shareholder group Pirc hits back at Sports Direct's "fake news" allegations

In August, shareholder groups called for the ousting of chairman Keith Hellawell due to his ineffectiveness over issues such as the £40m purchase of a company plane and the hiring of Ashley's daughter's boyfriend to head up Sports Direct's property team. He narrowly survived a vote at the annual general meeting.

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