Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley is the bookies favourite to win Sports Direct Personality of the Year for the 34th consecutive time. After a rare public appearance before MPs on the business, innovation and skills committee, the ‘pudgy face of modern capitalism’ is now being quoted at 1 -5 by all major betting firms. The portly retail entrepreneur faces stiff competition from three main corporate rivals: the courageous woman who gave birth in a ‘gulag workhouse’, the quiet man with suspected diabetes who was sacked for ‘long toilet breaks’, and the popular but chatty supervisor who was dismissed for ‘excessive horseplay’.
Addressing MPs, the Sports Direct boss appeared exasperated. ‘Do you clowns have any idea what it’s like to be a victim of your own success?’ he asked belligerently. ‘To make so much money that you’re gleefully blind to slave labour conditions? No sexually harassed female worker, emaciated forklift operator or billionaire for that matter, has ever suffered more than me. Do you understand how it feels to learn that you’re paying below minimum wage as you bite into a baked lobster tail? Well do you?’
The annual awards ceremony will again take place at Mr Ashley’s palatial mansion residence. With no major change to event logistics, the function will be planned and catered for by warehouse staff. All employees, whether serving champagne, wiping Mike’s arse or chlorinating his indoor swimming pool, are invited as guests but must fund the event through tickets priced at £149.99. Attendance is compulsory if staff want to keep their jobs. Lengthy security checks will remain in place to ensure safekeeping of his most valued asset: a treasure chest of giant ceramic Sports Direct mugs.