Simon English: Why Ashley really is one of the good guys

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The Independent Online

Outlook A while ago Labour leader Ed Miliband spoke of the difference between "good" business people and "bad" ones.

It is slightly surprising to report that Mike Ashley looks like he is firmly in the former camp. The retail tycoon floated his Sports Direct empire in 2007, cashing in towards £1 bn himself. He used the money to buy Newcastle United, among other things.

For quite a while after the float Ashley was loathed in the City as his shares crashed. His total disregard for corporate governance procedures and other City protocol had some questioning his integrity. He's a wrong 'un, went the whisper. Ashley's response was memorable. The complainers, he said, were just a bunch of cry babies. A reasonable point.

On Thursday Sports Direct will unveil half-year results that are likely to be strong. And next year's Olympics are just bound to be a boon to him. More than that, he treats staff well. They all get a bonus based on profits, which makes Sports Direct the John Lewis of the stock market.

Ashley did all of these things without the aid of Mary Portas. No bingo was required.