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06 July 2017

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley reveals ‘I like to get drunk’ in court as £15m battle over Sports Direct share price

SPORTS Direct boss and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley told a High Court judge that he likes getting drunk and is a “power drinker” as part of a £15m court battle.

Mr Ashley is being sued by investment banker Jeffrey Blue in a claim he says is “nonsense”.

PA:Press Association

Mike Ashley is being sued by an investment banker over a £15m claim[/caption]

PA:Press Association

Jeffrey Blue has said he was promised £15m in a share deal when at a pub with Mr Ashley[/caption]

He was giving evidence on the fourth day of a High Court trial in London.

Mr Blue says the 52-year-old businessman promised to pay him £15 million if he used his expertise to increase Sports Direct’s share price to £8 a share.

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

Mr Ashley denies the claim and says Mr Blue is talking “nonsense”.

The judge has heard that the dispute between Mr Blue and Mr Ashley relates to a conversation in a central London pub.

Mr Blue says Mr Ashley made a promise during a meeting in the Horse and Groom four years ago.

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley also owns Sports Direct
Mr Ashley’s lawyers have said Mr Blue’s claim is “remarkable” and an “opportunistic try on”
PA:Press Association

A lawyer representing Mr Blue asked how much Mr Ashley had drunk at the Horse and Groom.

Mr Ashley 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 said he remembered a “night of heavy drinking” with a group of finance specialists at the pub but could not remember detail of conversations.

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

“I’m a person who spends 99% 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.

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.

“It was a heavy night of drinking.

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

”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.”

Mr Ashley’s lawyers have said Mr Blue’s claim is “remarkable” and an “opportunistic try on”.

The court has previously heard he challenged colleagues to a drinking contest and drunk a Mayfair restaurant out of expensive red wine.

With a personal fortune of some £2.4billion, the 52-year-old has been regularly dogged by scandals – including damning reports that Sports Direct staff were subjected to “gulag-style” working conditions.


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