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Mike Ashley pledges £10m pay boost for staff

Mike Ashley promises to raise pay for Sports Direct employees. Credit: Martin Rickett/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Mike Ashley has pledged to spend £10m on raising the pay of all of Sports Direct's employees to above the minimum wage.

The move follows criticism from unions and in Parliament over the retail giant's pay and employment practices, including the use of zero hours contracts, under which staff do not know how many hours they will work from one week to the next.

It also comes shortly after the board announced that the Newcastle United owner would oversee a review of all agency worker terms and conditions at the company.

The rise, announced in an interview with the Daily Mirror, is likely to most benefit casual workers in its stores and agency staff in its depot.

He told the paper: "I'm making a New Year's resolution pledge to the Daily Mirror - and I'm deadly serious. I want to see Sports Direct become the best high street retail employer, after John Lewis.

"I realise this is ambitious and it won't be easy but I believe as a FTSE 100 or even 250 company we have a responsibility to set a high moral standard.

"We're putting our money where our mouth is and have notified the City we wil be spending £10mn ensuring all employees are above the minimum wage."

He added that thousands of Sports Direct staff received "life-changing" bonuses each year.

The rise will amount to around 15p an hour meaning workers 21 and above will receive £6.85p per hour, and 18 to 20 year olds will be paid £5.45p hourly, the paper said.

There are around 4,300 agency workers employed in Sports Direct's warehouse, while the company employs around 28,000 staff across the UK and Europe.

Sports Direct posted half-year results showing a 3.6% rise in underlying pre-tax profits for the six months to October 25.

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Detectives raid Mike Ashley's Sports Direct HQ

Detectives investigating the alleged fraudulent purchase of Rangers have raided Mike Ashley's Sports Direct headquarters. Officers from Police Scotland travelled to Shirebrook in Derbyshire as part of the ongoing investigation into the acquisition of the Ibrox side.

Credit: PA

Former owner Craig Whyte appeared at Glasgow Sheriff Court in November charged with involvement in a fraudulent scheme under the Companies Act 2006.

The investigation is ongoing and led Police Scotland officers, assisted by Derbyshire police, to search the Sports Direct base.

Newcastle United owner Ashley has a stake of almost 9% in Rangers.

"We can confirm that officers carried out a search of a property in Derbyshire. As this is part of a live inquiry, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

– Police Scotland

"The premises of Sports Direct at Shirebrook were visited by Police Scotland conducting an investigation relating to Glasgow Rangers FC and various persons previously employed by and or associated with Rangers. The police investigation is not directed at Sports Direct or at any of its directors or employees. The police were seeking documentation which might assist the investigation. Sports Direct has co-operated fully and will continue to co-operate in the provision of information that the police request."

– Sports Direct statement

Poll: Should Newcastle fans boycott Spurs match?

Should Newcastle fans boycott the match against Spurs? Credit: PA

Thousands of Newcastle fans are expected to boycott today's game against Tottenham at St James' Park.

The Magpies recent run of form has angered some supporters, who blame owner Mike Ashley for not investing more money in the club.

Campaigners from the 'Ashley Out' group say they will hand out 20,000 leaflets near the stadium before kick-off at 4pm.

What do you think? Should Newcastle fans boycott today's match? Have your say below:

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NUFC: profit goal achieved for fourth year

Newcastle United has made profit for the fourth successive year. This cements Newcastle's position, in financial terms, as one of the most successful clubs in the top flight.

The club's debt remained static at £129million in the form of an interest-free loan from owner Mike Ashley - none of the debt has been repaid.

"I am pleased to report a positive set of results which confirms the healthy financial position the club now finds itself in and is a reflection of the prudent and measured manner in which we operate.

"The club benefits from a supportive owner and is financially stable. This gives us a strong platform from which to grow, both on and off the pitch, a result of which means, as we move forward, we are able to net spend on the playing squad and invest in other areas of the business.

"The most pleasing aspect in this set of accounts has been the growth in our commercial revenue and it has been our strongest year yet in that respect."

– Newcastle managing director Lee Charnley

Newcastle United announce record profits of £18.7m

Newcastle United has announced record profits of £18.7m due to increases in television income and new sponsorship deals.

The club also saw revenues increase by 35% from £95.9m to £129.7m.

More than half the club's income (£78.3million) came from the new Premier League television rights deals.

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley Credit: PA

"Most significantly, the club reported strong commercial revenue growth delivering £25.6million in 2014, up from £17.1million in 2013. This 49.7 per cent increase was largely the result of two lucrative new deals with the club's principal sponsors, Wonga and Puma."

– Newcastle United

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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