Business World

Thursday 19 October 2017

'I like to get drunk. I am a power drinker' - Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley

Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley arrives at the High Court in London Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire
Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley arrives at the High Court in London Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Brian Farmer

Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley told a High Court judge about his forward-looking philosophy as he countered claims by a finance expert who has sued him.

Investment banker Jeffrey Blue says the 52-year-old businessman promised to pay him £15m if he used his expertise to increase Sports Direct's share price to £8 a share during night of heavy drinking a London pub four years ago

He says Mr Ashley paid only £1m and he wants £14m damages.

Mr Ashley, who is giving evidence on the fourth day of a High Court trial in London, denies the claim and says Mr Blue is talking "nonsense".

He says he paid Mr Blue, who he called "Jeffers", £1m for "other deals" unrelated to the night the Horse And Groom pub.

Mr Ashley has told how he remembered a "night of heavy drinking" with a group of finance specialists at the pub but could not remember detail of conversations.

Investment banker Jeffrey Blue outside the High Court in London for the trial against Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire
Investment banker Jeffrey Blue outside the High Court in London for the trial against Newcastle United owner and Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley Credit: John Stillwell/PA Wire

He suggested that he had particular difficulty remembering because he did not spend his life looking back.

"I'm a person who spends 99pc of my life looking forward," he told Mr Justice Leggatt on Thursday.

"Not driving in the rear view mirror."

Mr Ashley said he had been trying to "get pissed and have a good night out" at the Horse And Groom.

He calculated that within an hour he would have drunk four to five pints.

"It was a fun evening, drinking at pace," he said.

"I like to get drunk. I am a power drinker."

He added: "My thing is not to drink regularly. It is binge-drinking. I am trying to get drunk."

Mr Ashley was asked how much Mr Blue had drunk.

"He would never have been able to keep up," said Mr Ashley.

"He's a lightweight when it comes to drinking."

Mr Ashley has told the judge that Mr Blue's claim left him incredulous

"It was a heavy night of drinking," he has said.

''I find it incredible that Mr Blue is actually suggesting that I made a binding agreement for £15m.

''It's nonsense.

''If I did say to Mr Blue that I would pay him £15 million if he could increase (Sports Direct's) share price to £8, it would be obvious to everyone, including Mr Blue, that I wasn't being serious.''

Press Association

Also in Business