'Serious' concerns over Newcastle boss's firm
Embattled Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley was under pressure on a second front today after a shareholder action group attacked his company's pay plans.
Investors in Mr Ashley's stock market-listed retail group Sports Direct International are being urged to vote against pay proposals for executives at its annual shareholder meeting tomorrow.
The billionaire owner of Newcastle United is already suffering a furious backlash from club fans after last week's departure of manager Kevin Keegan.
Fans are reportedly pledging to boycott his Sports World stores and are also said to have told Mr Ashley not to attend away games.
Now investor advisory group Pirc has slammed Sports Direct's bonus plans in yet another blow to the group, which has had a troubled history in the City since flotation in February last year.
Pirc said the targets under its incentive pay scheme for top bosses were "not sufficiently challenging" and that departure bonuses in contracts were not appropriate.
The group also said it had "serious" corporate governance concerns over the senior line-up, with Mr Ashley also acting as deputy chairman with joint responsibility for strategy development.
"Pirc has concerns that there is a concentration of power in the hands of the executive deputy chairman, who controls the company and its strategic direction," said Pirc.
Mr Ashley, who owns 72.2 per cent of Sports Direct shares, is expected to face shareholders at the company's offices near Mansfield tomorrow.
Sports Direct, which owns Lillywhites and owns brands including Lonsdale and Slazenger, has been hammered over corporate governance issues since taking the firm public.
It has been criticised for its lack of communication with the City, failing to offer regular like-for-like sales figures, which strip out the effect of new store trade.
Its financial performance has also come under fire and the group reported in July that annual pre-tax profits more than halved to £85 million from £174.5 million the previous year.
The group pledged on reporting the figures that it would offer comparable store sales information on an annual basis.
But founder Mr Ashley has failed to win over the City's affections having at one time branding unhappy investors as "cry babies".
He netted a £929 million windfall on the group's stock market and has since bought back shares when the stock price fell dramatically.
Mr Ashley also bought Newcastle United last year - paying £133 million.
Sports Direct was not immediately available for comment.
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Wreckage could be found within a week as search reaches 'very critical juncture', says minister
South Korea ferry disaster: Released transcripts show chaos and confusion in the moments before ferry sinks
Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
South Korea ferry disaster: Families watch as remains of Sewol victims returned to shore
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
An open letter to Nigel Farage: you may smile, but I am not seduced
Abdullah Deghayes: My son was the martyr of a just cause, says father of British teenager killed in Syria conflict
- 1 Jose Mourinho: Graceless reaction of Chelsea manager a sad effort to hide his own flaws
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
iJobs Money & Business
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Database Team Lead ( Leadership, Sybase, Compute...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET D...
£25000 - £35000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET S...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: Trade Suppor...