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Retail ruckus: Whelan vs Ashley

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There are fisticuffs in the world of retail. Whelan – who also owns Wigan Athletic football club – wants to save the gym chain he originally created. If the deal doesn’t go through, JJB will be unable to repay its bank loans to Lloyds Banking Group, Kaupthing and Barclays or meet its rental payments and will hurtle into administration. If it goes down, it will be the largest retail collapse since the demise of Woolworths last year.

Mike Ashley, meanwhile, allegedly has steam coming out of his ears. He wants his firm, Sports Direct, to take over the gym clubs and shops instead. He tabled an £80m offer for the chain last year, which didn’t go through – and he hasn’t given up his fight for the firm since. He’s doing all he can to scupper the deal and has urged gym landlords not to assign their leases to Whelan.

How will this messy saga end? Stay tuned.

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