The court proceedings between Mike Ashley and Jeff Blue has taken a downturn for the owner of Newcastle United.
The long-term advisor to Ashley claims that an agreement was reached in 2013, whereby he would receive £15m if the Sports Direct share price at least doubled within three years.
Mike Ashley has described the two and a half hour meeting in a London pub as just ‘banter’ but is it argued that the Sports Direct founder does much of his business off the cuff in an unorthodox way.
Joe Kinnear was infamously appointed as Director of Football at Newcastle United following a drinking session with Mike Ashley, where the offer of the job was reported to have been made out of the blue.
Kinnear later turned up on radio and bizarrely announced his own appointment.
At the pub meeting with Jeff Blue, it is said a ‘considerable amount of alcohol’ was consumed
In advance of the case being held later this year, legal teams from both sides argued in the High Court over whether mobile phone records and text messages should be disclosed and used in evidence.
Judge Justice Philips ruled against Mike Ashley’s objections and the content of the text messages and mobile records will be able to be used to back Jeff Blue’s case.
Business website Buzzfeed report a source close to Mike Ashley saying:
“Mike never does emails but he does send lots of texts.”
Included in the court documents provided by Jeff Blue’s legal team, he claims Mike Ashley said at the pub meeting, which bankers from Espirito Santo were also present at:
“What should I do to incentivise Jeff? If he can get the stock to £8 per share why should I give a f*** how much I have to pay him, I will have made so much money it doesn’t matter.”
The share price duly doubled from 400p to more than 800p, which meant that Mike Ashley’s personal shareholding had at that point increased by some £1.6bn.
Whilst the legal arguments have been ongoing over this alleged £15m contract agreement, recent months have seen the share price spectacularly collapse and this morning (Friday 1 April 2016) the SD share price opened at 373.5p.
Negativity reigns throughout Mike Ashley’s empire, with MPs leading the concerted attacks on his running of Sports Direct, whilst Newcastle United supporters can’t believe the mess he has made of their club – NUFC heavy favourites to make the drop to the Championship – with what looks a make or break match against Norwich on Saturday.