Wednesday 9 September 2015 1:52 pm

Mike Ashley is the least popular director among Sports Direct shareholders

Mike Ashley is the least popular director at Sports Direct among shareholders, according to votes taken at the retailer's AGM held yesterday. 
The multi-billion-pound business, which Ashley set up in 1982, comfortably passed all the requisite resolutions including the re-election of all its directors. 
But the numbers revealed by Sports Direct showed proportionately more shareholders voted against the controversial businessman than any of his co-board members. 
In fact, 13.5 per cent of the shareholder vote went against Ashley, who owns 58 per cent of the retailer, as well as Newcastle United.
That was around twice as much as any other director received, with chairman and former drugs czar Keith Hellawell the next in line with 7.2 per cent of shareholders voting against his re-election. 
Both men may have caught some flack from the hot potato that is Ashley's remuneration, which Hellawell has been pushing for. 
That view is also borne out by non-exec director Dave Singleton picking up the third place, with 5.7 per cent of the vote. Why was Singleton not a favourite? Perhaps his role as chairman of the remuneration committee had something to do with it?
These figures are far from mutinous, but when you consider that the most popular director, chief executive Dave Forsey, was returned with just 0.02 per cent of the vote going against him, Ashley, Hellawell and Singleton suddenly seem relatively very unpopular.  
The board has for many years been looking for the best way to reward Ashley, who really can claim to have driven the company from one shop in southeast England to the dominant player in the UK's sportswear market with around 400 stores nationwide. 
Sports Direct has tabled four attempts at creating a bonus scheme, finally approved in July, although Ashley ultimately backed away from the scheme after what Hellawell dubbed “unhelpful speculation” around how much he stood to recoup.