Sports Direct accounts investigated over family links

Mike Ashley outside Sports Direct headquarters Image copyright PA
Image caption Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley stepped back in as chief executive in September

Sports Direct is being investigated by the UK's accounting watchdog over its links to a firm for which founder Mike Ashley's brother is a director.

The Financial Reporting Council announced it had launched a probe after reports emerged about the retailer's links to Barlin Delivery Limited.

Reports in August indicated that the firm, which runs Sports Direct's overseas deliveries, had Mr Ashley's older brother, John, as a shareholder.

Sports Direct is yet to comment.

The regulator said it was investigating the "preparation, approval and audit of the financial statements of Sports Direct" for the most recent financial year.

"These decisions follow reports of an arrangement between Sports Direct and Barlin Delivery Limited which was not disclosed as a related party in the company's financial statements," it added.


Sports Direct and Mike Ashley have come under intense scrutiny this year over the way the company is run.

The billionaire retail tycoon was forced to answer questions by MPs about its workers' conditions, and had to defend his grip on the business to shareholders.

Sports Direct, which has around 450 retail outlets, came under fire after BBC and Guardian investigations uncovered working practices at one of its warehouses which MPs later described as being akin to a Victorian workhouse.

The firm's shares fell 2.5% on Monday on news of the accounts investigation, and are down nearly 50% for the year.

The links between Sports Direct, Barlin Delivery and John Ashley were first reported by the Financial Times.

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