The Business On: Charlie McCreevy, Non-executive, Sports Direct

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The Independent Online

Do I know him?

You may remember Mr McCreevy from any one of a number of high-profile jobs he has done in the past. He's best-known for his seven years as finance minister of Ireland – back in the good old Celtic Tiger days. After stepping down in 2004, he had a long stint as a European Union commissioner.

Sports Direct seems an unlikely place for him to turn up.

Why? It is Britain's largest sporting goods retailer these days, you know. And it is quite keen to expand further into continental Europe, where Mr McCreevy's contacts will no doubt be very useful.

Will he be offering advice onregulatory matters?

Maybe – that was one area of his expertise in his EU days. But if that's a jibe, Sports Direct is fine thank you. The Serious Fraud Office has concluded there is no case to answerafter an inquiry into suggestions the company might have indulged in cartel activity with rival JJB Sports.

Will he get on with Mike Ashley?

Well, like the Sports Direct boss, Mr McCreevy is renowned for plain speaking. When Ireland went to the polls in the 2008 referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, he admitted he hadn't read the whole of the document, adding that he doubted any normal person had.

Any other irons in the fire?

He's on the board at Ryanair too. His observations on Mr Ashley and Michael O'Leary, the high-profile chief executive of the budget airline, might be interesting. He also had a short spell with NBNK Investments, the new venture set up to pursue new banking ventures. But he had to step down after suggestions that he might have conflicts of interest, having served so recently as an EU commissioner.

And how does he relax?

He's a sports nut, which should suit Sports Direct. He picks out racing and golf plus Irish sports including hurling and Gaelic football. He's from Country Kildare, where his father was a lock-keeper, as generations of his family were, going back to 1780 according to canal company records.