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Mike Ashley makes rest of country now hate him as much as Newcastle fans do with disgraceful decision

8 months ago
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Mike Ashley just might have done it this time.

Boris Johnson announcing on Monday night a range of more stringent moves to try and minimise the spread of the Coronavirus and reduce the number of people who will fall ill, with many potentially dying.

Amongst the changes were an order by the Government that only ‘essential’ shops should stay open.

Essential shops that are exempt from the Government’s ban are the likes of food retailers, pharmacies, hardware stores, corner shops, petrol stations, shops in hospital, banks, post offices, newsagents, launderettes and pet shops.

Non-essential shops that must close, include both indoor and outdoor markets, shops selling clothing, books and electricals, plus hairdressers, bed and breakfasts, and many more.

However, in an attempt to exploit a ‘grey area’, Mike Ashley has vowed to keep his Sports Direct stores open, claiming they are ‘essential’ because ‘we are uniquely well placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible during this crisis.’

Mike Ashley trying to benefit from the fact that the Prime Minister also said it was important for people to exercise at home during this crisis.

Interesting to see whether the Government will allow Mike Ashley to get away this cynical move, regardless of that, I have a feeling that the general public will not forget those such as Ashley who have acted as they have in this national, and indeed worldwide, crisis.

Only days ago, Mike Ashley released a statement warning that profits would be down due to the Coronavirus situation…

The message to Frasers Group (formerly Sports Direct Group) staff (With Chief Financial Officer Chris Wootton’s name on the end) read:

“We stock a huge range of sports equipment for exercising at home from yoga mats, gym balls, skipping ropes, weights, indoor and outdoor trampolines, resistance bands through to bikes, treadmills, rowing machines, static exercise bikes, multigyms, fitness clothing and footwear in order for people to remain fit and healthy during this period of isolation, indeed home fitness is the number one trending topic on social media after coronavirus itself.

“Against the backdrop of the closure of gyms the demand for these types of products has increased exponentially as the population looks to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“Consequently, we are uniquely well placed to help keep the UK as fit and healthy as possible during this crisis and thus our Sports Direct and Evans Cycles stores will remain open where possible to allow us to do this (in accordance with the Government’s current social distancing guidance).

“There is no one else that has the range of product and range of stores to make this reasonably accessible for the whole population.”

Even though he owns 63% of Sports Direct/Frasers Group and has made this decision, Mike Ashley putting somebody else’s name on this message to staff, that was always then going to go very public.

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