Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley outside the Sports Direct headquarters in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.
Direct founder Mike Ashley outside the Sports Direct headquarters
in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.

Joe Giddens
/ PA Wire/Press Association Images

LONDON — Discount sporting goods retailer Sports Direct is
taking a leaf out of US President Donald Trump’s book, attacking
a report about its CEO’s pay as “fake news.”

Sports Direct
issued a statement on Wednesday
saying that data compiled by
Pensions & Investment Research Consultants (“PIRC”) and
published by newspaper City AM showing that Sports Direct has a
CEO-to-employee pay ratio of 400:1 is incorrect. The story in
appears to have been removed from City AM’s website.

A spokesperson for the company said in a statement:

“This is fake news that appears to have been either deliberately
or recklessly circulated by an irresponsible organisation that is
making headlines at the expense of Sports Direct. We have
contacted PIRC to request a copy of the report and we will be
writing to them to express our disappointment. It is incorrect to
state that Sports Direct has the second-highest ratio of chief
executive-to-average employee pay.”

Sports Direct says the incorrect data appears to be a result of
PIRC including unvested bonus entitlements in its calculations.
Dave Forsey, who was until recently CEO, chose to forego this
bonus. When the unvested bonus is excluded from the calculations,
the CEO-to-employee pay ratio is closer to 9:1, Sports Direct

Sports Direct’s billionaire founder Mike Ashley
replaced Forsey as CEO of the business in September
in a bid
to turn around the scandal-hit retailer. Ashley does not take a
salary in his role as CEO.

Sports Direct came under intense pressure from the press, MPs,
and investors last year. Parliament’s influential Business,
Innovation, and Skills committee concluded that the chain was

run like a “Victorian workhouse”
 and this
led investors
to call for sweeping management changes.

Ashley founded Sports Direct in 1982 and grew it into a
multi-billion pound retail empire. Until last September he was
executive vice chairman and is the majority owner.