JJB is understood to be in the final stages of negotiations to sell its health clubs business to the chain’s founder Dave Whelan.

According to reports, Whelan has pitched a conditional bid of between£60m to£70m for the health clubs business, trumping private equity firm Rutland Partners, which is believed to have offered around£41m.

The sale of the 50-site business is understood to have been a key demand set by JJB’s lenders HBOS, Barclays and Kaupthing. Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley and LA Fitness are among those previously linked to a bid.

JJB confirmed earlier this week that it had received offers from interested parties for its health clubs business.