A sale of JJB Sports' gyms business to the retailer's founder Dave Whelan is imminent, despite reports Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has made moves to thwart the deal.

According to reports over the weekend, Ashley wrote to some of JJB’s landlords urging them not to deal with Whelan after Ashley lost out on an offer he made for the business.

Without a sale of the gyms business, it is believed that JJB will collapse into administration as it will not be able to pay its rent bill on the rent quarter day this Wednesday.

Executive chairman Sir David Jones, who is trying to secure a future for the business, is also believed to be considering a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA) even if a sale of the health clubs goes through.