Sports Direct boss tells court the company doesn’t care about the City

Sports Direct chief executive Mike Ashley has told a high court he doesn’t “particularly care” what the City thinks of the company he founded.

Ashley is fighting a claim from former Merrill Lynch banker Jeffrey Blue that he failed to honour a promise to pay him £15m if the sports retailer’s share price hit £8.

Dismissing the promise as “drink banter”, Ashley, who only paid Blue £1m, says he is not concerned about his reputation in the Square Mile, City AM reports.

“Why would Sports Direct care about raising its image?” he said. “I don’t particularly care.”

He was responding to questioning from Blue’s legal team that Sports Direct had been attempting to raise its standing in the City after Merrill Lynch suddenly dropped it as a client.

The court has already heard that Ashley engaged in unorthodox business practices, including heavy drinking and taking naps under meeting room tables during client meetings.

In the past, Sports Direct has clashed with investors over corporate governance issues.

Last August, the Investor Forum, which represents £14.5trn worth of assets, took the unprecedented step of going public with its concerns about the company in the lead up to its AGM.