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Mike Ashley in the spotlight over football finances

Mike Ashley Credit: PA

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has been accused of breaching several Scottish Football Association rules relating to his dual interest in Rangers and the Magpies, the Scottish FA has announced.

Late this afternoon the SFA issued notices of complaint against both Mike Ashley and Rangers Football club, suggesting SFA rules have been breached because of the Billionaire's dual interest in Rangers and Newcastle United.

There's a hearing scheduled for the end of January.

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Miliband slams 'terrible' Sports Direct employment terms

Ed Miliband has claimed 17,000 of Sports Direct's 20,000 strong workforce are on zero-hours contracts as he attacked the company as a "terrible" employer for some staff.

Ed Miliband pledged that Labour would ban zero-hours contracts. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Speaking in Coventry, the Labour leader said the company "has predictable turnover, it has big profits but, for too many of its employees, Sports Direct is a terrible place to work".

"We cannot go on with an economy that allows businesses to use zero-hours contracts as the standard way of employing people month after month, year after year," he said.

Describing what he calls a "zero-zero economy" - where workers have no guaranteed hours and those at the top pay no tax - Miliband added: "These Victorian practices - the epidemic of zero-hours contracts that we see at Sports Direct - have no place in the 21st century."

According to the Office for National Statistics, around 1.4 million people were on zero-hours contracts in the UK when estimated earlier this year.

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Government 'already acting' on zero-hours terms

Miliband will use a speech to criticise the "Victorian practices" of some employers. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Business Minister Matthew Hancock says the government is already tackling the abuse of zero-hours contracts amid criticism from Labour leader Ed Miliband over the practice.

Hancock said Miliband's plans to ban employers from using such terms represented a "rehashed policy" and said Miliband's own Doncaster Council had admitted using 300 people on zero-hours terms.

"We're already tackling the abuse of zero-hours contracts - after 13 years of Labour doing absolutely nothing about it.

– Matthew Hancock, Business Minister
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Miliband attacks Sports Direct over zero-hours contracts

Ed Miliband will single out high-street chain Sports Direct for criticism over its use of zero-hours contracts in a speech today.

Sports Direct has said it will change its working practices. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

The Labour leader will accuse a number of firms of using "Victorian practices" in using such terms, which see employees given no guaranteed hours and those at the top can escape taxation.

Speaking in Coventry, Miliband will describe Sports Direct as an example of a firm where the "vast majority" of employees are on zero-hours - calling it a "bad place to work" for many staff.

The retail giant agreed last month to make "major changes" for staff after legal action brought by a former employee.

Sports Direct did not comment on Mr Miliband's attack, but repeated an earlier statement on its plans to make changes.

A spokesman said: "The company will continue the process of reviewing, updating and improving our core employment documents and procedures across our entire business beyond its existing compliant framework."

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Mike Ashley bows out of Sports Direct profit-share scheme

Credit: PA

Mike Ashley has bowed out of a controversial profit-share scheme which could see 3,000 permanent staff receive a piece of £200m if profits double in 2019.

The scheme recently came under fire from investors groups and the Institute of Directors who were planning to vote against Chairman Keith Hellawell and other board members because they were unhappy with the arrangement.

In a statement on the Sport's Direct website today the company confirms that despite approval from a panel of independent shareholders that he could receive a payout he has - after discussions with the board - decided to refuse his payout.

Keith Hellawell, Non-Executive Chairman of Sports Direct International plc, said:

"The resolution passed by shareholders to implement the 2015 Bonus Share Scheme clearly recognises the success of previous company-wide schemes, and the significant contribution from Mike.

"On behalf of the entire Board, I should like to thank shareholders for the trust and confidence that they have demonstrated towards the team.

"Mike remains fully committed to achieving the scheme's stretch targets. Regarding the allocation of shares, Mike's focus is on ensuring that the scheme aligns all employees to achieve the Company's objectives.

"Following recent unhelpful speculation surrounding his potential allocation, he is determined to ensure that there is the maximum number of shares available for the eligible employees."

Mike Ashley has not received a salary or any bonus since Sports Direct was floated in 2007 when he received £929m.

Supporters group seeks clarity over St James' Park lease

St James' Park, Newcastle Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/Press Association Images

A Newcastle United fans group is seeking further clarity over the club's alleged plans to sell a lease on land next to St James' Park.

The 125-year lease, on land opposite the Gallogate end, was purchased from Nexus in 1998 under the Sir John Hall and Freddie Shepherd regime for potential ground expansion in the future.

Newcastle United Supporters Trust says the club's current owner, Mike Ashley, is attempting to privately sell the lease. It's understood the land could then be developed for either a hotel or student accommodation.

NUST Chairman, Norman Watson, has written to Newcastle City Council to request further details under the Freedom of Information Act.

Profits boost for Mike Ashley's Sports Direct

Sports Direct, which is owned by Mike Ashley, has announced that its profits are rising. They were up by 14.6% in the 13 weeks ending on 26 January 2014, totalling £280.7 million.

Here are some of the key figures in more detail:

  • Sales for the 13 weeks ending 26 January 2014 were up 11.2% to £655.4m
  • Sports Retail sales in the 13 week period increased 6.9% to £529.9m
  • Premium Lifestyle sales in the period were up 52.5% to £71.2m
  • The Brands division revenue increased by 15.5% to £54.3m

“Despite tougher comparisons during the period, Sports Retail continues to perform well driven by our on-going focus on exceptional quality, unbeatable value and availability. Online also performed strongly with non-UK online gross profit contribution expected to be greater than the UK equivalent by the end of this financial year."

– Dave Forsey, Chief Executive of Sports Direct International plc

The company will release their preliminary results on 17 July 2014.

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