News today that Mike Ashley’s sportswear retail company Sports Direct has been cleared of any wrong-doing in its acquisition of 31 stores from rival sports retailer JJB Sports, back in 2009.
The SFO is said to have ended its investigation into Sports Direct and JJB Sports last October, and brought no charges against any company.
However, is has continued the investigation into individuals involved in the deal, but Sports Direct made this statement today:
“No individuals connected to Sports Direct International PLC are under investigation.”
The investigations started two years ago in January 2009, when JJB Sports contacted the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) with information about “a suspected agreement or concerted practice to dampen competition in the sports retail market”.
Practices to thwart competition in business are called Antitrust here in the US, and the Sherman Antitrust Law still forms the basis for most antitrust litigation by the US government.
The actual individuals now being investigated by the SFO have not been identified, but individuals of Sports Direct are not involved, even if they were previously.
Of course that could have included the Newcastle owner himself, Mike Ashley.
This case had come up when things were not too good at the Newcastle club, and at the time the Newcastle club was struggling with relegation, and of course we were relegated in May of 2009, but things are now a lot better on Tyneside – at least compared to what they were then.