Now Mike Ashley has pulled out of Sports Direct's bonus scheme

Getting him a bonus in the first place had more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. Now Ashley has pulled out of the scheme. Say what?

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 10 Sep 2014

What is Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley playing at? It took three tries and the threat of a shareholder rebellion to finally get him into a bonus scheme - and now he has decided to pull out.

Sports Direct's bonus scheme was finally approved during a sparsely-attended shareholder meeting at the beginning of this month. Under the scheme, employees will get a slice of a pie made of 25 million shares, worth about £200m. The plans were heavily criticised by the likes of the Association of British Insurers, which was worried that they weren't clear how scheme would be split between Ashley himself and the rest of its members. But eventually 60% of shareholders voted in favour, despite the ABI's warnings.

So why has Ashley, who hasn't been paid since the retailer floated in 2007, rejected it? The best explanation so far is that this is him being a 'man of the people', trying to ensure there are as many shares as possible available to his workers.

Nick Bubb, a retail analyst, agrees: 'The great man now wants the staff to get all the shares, which is a nice gesture, even though it renders much of the recent debate completely futile,' he told the FT. If MT were a shareholder - or, indeed, a board member - it would be more than a little irritated by all this.

Whatever Ashley's motivations, he says he now won't get involved in a bonus scheme until 2019, after the first 25% of the current scheme vests. That's a long time to wait to get paid. Although in the intervening period, we suppose he can muddle through by selling off some of his Sports Direct shares. Or shorting a struggling department store. Whatever.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime