Sports Direct's Mike Ashley will finally get his bonus

It's third time lucky for the retailer's founder, whose shareholders voted in favour of a bonus scheme today.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 10 Sep 2014

It was a quiet morning at Sports Direct HQ in Shirebrook, just south of Sheffield: just three shareholders turned up to its general meeting, despite the fact it was one of the most divisive in the company's history.

Still: in the end, it all turned out alright for founder and major shareholder Mike Ashley, who owns 58% of the company and was facing judgement about yet another bonus scheme the board has cooked up. The previous two - proposed in 2011 and March this year - had fallen flat on their faces, so this time the board came up with the bright idea of creating a bonus scheme that applies to all employees, rather than just Ashley.

Under the scheme, employees will be eligible for a slice of 25 million shares, provided they more than double the retailer's earnings to £750m and they're still working there by 2019, when the first 25% of the share scheme vests - and then in 2021 when they get the rest.

Although some shareholders had cautioned that the scheme is still aimed at one employee in particular, and therefore is inappropriate, 61% of shareholders voted in favour of it. The Institute of Directors has already complained, saying there is 'no effective check on Ashley's power'.

'This type of pay package would be unthinkable for a senior executive who was not also the company's major shareholder,' said corporate governance director Roger Barker. Some shareholders are likely to agree.

Meanwhile, Ashley himself was embroiled in a row with Adidas, which he has called 'disingenuous' and 'anti-competitive' over the supply of relpica football kits. Apparently it hasn't supplied 'on-field' kits for the teams it sponsors, which Ashley reckons is to do with price. Apparently Sports Direct isn't the only retailer to have complained to their local competition authority. So we'll see who puts the boot in first...

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