Mike Ashley has an uncomfortable day ahead, with those opposed to him planning a number of moves to embarrass and discredit him.
The Sports Direct owner will attend the Annual General Meeting at its Derbyshire HQ and in advance, a number of major investors have pledged to vote against both the re-election of Mike Ashley, as well as those closest to him – including Chairman Keith Hellawell.
With increased powers for minority shareholders, they could make life difficult for the Newcastle United owner, though his 55% shareholding would mean he could eventually force through his preferences. However, that could be after having to go through some very potentially damaging PR in terms of corporate governance, as Ashley may be seen as ignoring the wishes of those minority shareholders.
As well as shareholders making life uncomfortable inside the AGM, demonstrations against Mike Ashley and the running of Sports Direct are also planned around the country to coincide with the meeting.
Protests are planned outside Sports Direct stores with up to 40 targeted, including the one on Northumberland Street in Newcastle.
Protestors will dress as Dickensian workers to demand an end to ‘Victorian’ work practices and the payment of a living wage of £7.85 per hour. With the Sports Direct model continuing to be based on employing over 75% (at least 15,000 people) of employees on zero hour contracts.
Mike Ashley’s re-election to the board as executive vice chairman is set to be challenged, after he failed to attend four board meetings, with concerns also raised about the company’s bonus scheme for senior staff, as well as a belief that Ashley runs Sports Direct with a few close allies – paying little notice to the board and corporate governance.
For Newcastle fans it will be interesting to see if questions are once again raised about the benefit of the free Newcastle United advertising to Sports Direct.