Mike Ashley Uncovered: An Inside Out Special

Image for Mike Ashley Uncovered: An Inside Out SpecialNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 29 minutes

He is the owner Newcastle United fans love to hate - but how does he make the money that bankrolls the club? A special Inside Out investigation traces the source of Mike Ashley's wealth. The programme follows the supply chain for his hugely successful Sports Direct empire that has placed him among some of Britain's richest entrepreneurs. It is a journey that leads to some of the world's poorest people working for just a pound a day.

  • Mike Ashley

    Mike Ashley

    Mike Ashley looks on during the Championship match between Barnsley and Newcastle United.

  • Mike Ashley uncovered

    A BBC investigation has followed the supply chain of multi-millionaire Mike Ashley's sports retailing business all the way back to one of the world's poorest countries where workers are paid around £1 per day for a 12 hour shift.

    A special Inside Out programme about the controversial owner of Newcastle United football club filmed workers in Laos making clothes for his Sports Direct stores.

    The factory had one sealed air conditioned room to keep cool a computerised sewing machine which was embroidering dozens of Lonsdale logos.

    Elsewhere on the site hundreds of people were in long production lines in the heat sewing clothes together ready to be shipped to Mike Ashley’s UK stores. They were bagged up - and amazingly even had a 70% discount sticker already added before they left the factory.

    The manager told the undercover reporters that his factory did not meet the internationally accepted standards for all garment workers – known as the AS 8000 standard.

    It guarantees no child labour is used, and the workers get a living wage without excessive overtime - in a safe and decent environment.

    The factory manager admitted, to meet the standard he would have to improve conditions in the factory - and pay staff more.

    Many other major sports retailers - such as Nike publically list all their suppliers who all have all passed this test. Sports Direct doesn't list its suppliers.

    A spokesman for Mike Ashley told the BBC that the neither the company nor the club would be commenting. They did say that some of the questions the programme makers had written to them about were "inaccurate and misleading" – although they haven’t said in what way.

    The spokesman added they'd be watching the programme closely.


Dan Farthing


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