After Mike Ashley said that he was too busy throughout the whole of March to appear, MPs had to make do with Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell today.

He faced a grilling for two hours by MPs on the Scottish Affairs Committee, including Chairman Ian Davidson, over the company’s administration of USC.

Bizarrely, Business news website City AM reported that Hellawell insisted that there’d never been a problem in terms of Mike Ashley’s willingness to appear and that he would be prepared to meet MPs at another time.

Chairman Ian Davidson was incredulous, pointing out that MPs had to resort to contacting Sports Direct’s PR because they couldn’t get any response from the Sports Direct majority shareholder.

When (if?) Ashley does appear, he can expect to be given a hard time by MPs who were often angry and frustrated with Keith Hellawell’s responses.

USC’s administration resulted in around 200 redundancies at a warehouse in Ayrshire, before being bought out by sister company Republic.

Ian Davidson claimed that the management had no need to shut the warehouse and said that they’d; “callously and deliberately developed a situation where employees got 15 minutes’ notice.”

The Sports Direct Chairman though said it was a last minute decision and prompted by the landlord of the warehouse refusing access over unpaid rent. Hellawell; “I wouldn’t call it callous, it was a business decision.”

When asked about relationships with suppliers, Keith Hellawell admitted that Sports Direct withholds payment to suppliers and landlords to try and agree better prices. The SD Chairman saying that he would now be going back to ask ‘searching questions’ of management about this tactic.

For Newcastle fans, the club owner’s way of dealing with employees should come as no surprise, judging by Jonas Gutierrez’ comments reported arlier today with regard to how he was treated when suffering from testicular cancer.


  • magpie9

    Just the way fatty does everything, squeeze every penny out no matter the consequences, remember when we all supported a football club not an cheap money advertising excuse for a sporting concern

  • magpiefifer

    Hellawell’s answers mirror the disdain his fat boss shows to the Toon supporters – and the politicians don’t have the nous to see it!! eg ‘ he would go back and ask searching questions of management about this tactic’ – as if he didn’t know what the company policy was in dealing with suppliers!!!!

  • AngeBlue55

    Ashley is a coward sending someone else into the firing line. You can be sure Ashley himself will never appear unless he has to by law.

  • AndyMac1

    I’m sorry but Shlte Direct and good working conditions do not go hand in hand unless of course you’re FatAsh ?

  • magpiefifer

    AngeBlue55  He’s an arrogant coward and I long for the day he gets his come-uppence!!!

  • Bornunderabigbluestar

    When will the rest of the UK wake up and see what a truly disgusting business model this is? Lets hope the MPs can get him in soon, he is stalling hoping the election will delay or end the matter

  • terriertwo

    Mike said he would love to appear but until they widen the doorways in Parliament health and safety have advised him against it in case it bruises his ego.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    SD said Ashley was out of the country, or too busy, to attend the first request (27th Feb). The very next day he was at the Villa game. That is a fact anyone can Google.
    So, now we learn they refuse to pay suppliers and landlords in order to obtain cheaper rents and cheaper merchandise deals (once they have the goods). It’s fookin despicable and nowt more than blackmail, which 200 employees paid the price for.
    How the hell can anyone support this man, or in football terms, not want him out of our Club and for us to break all association with his parasitic ways?

  • Sickandtiredstill

    AngeBlue55 Despite his delaying tactics and bluster, Parliament can officially summon him if needed. It sounds like he now has accepted the fact he will have to appear before them.
    The more we learn, the more hideous this man and his practises become. No wonder he will never speak to the press and bans everyone who actually speaks any degree of truth about him and his despicable dealings.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    magpiefifer Corporate governance of SD is and has been a long running concern. They haven;t had a Financial Director for 18 months now
    I believe they (Halliwell and Board)  are all shyte scared of the bloke and let him do as he wishes. He runs SD like his own company still when it is now a PLC.
    All the bad press is only going to upset other shareholders further and that has always been the key to getting at Ashley. Damage SD and you’ll damage him.

  • AMarkDixon

    Sickandtiredstill Unfortunately UK law protects buyers and not suppliers.  Happens to us all the time.  Late payments is the single most important factor in the UK that forces companies out of business due to poor cashflow.  In Scandinavia where countries are not governed by the EU there is an interest charged on late payment.  This stops the large bully boy companies destroying the smaller suppliers.  SD isn’t the worst.  ASDA/Wallmart, Tesco and B&Q are far worse.

  • Demented_Man

    Sickandtiredstill Isn’t it pretty much the same way that NUFC approach the buying of players?  They try to force the price down at the last moment after having agreed terms.