Former JJB Sports chief executive Chris Ronnie’s 23 per cent in JJB Sports is believed to have been sold to sports tycoon Mike Ashley.

Ashley, the founder and executive deputy chairman of rival group Sports Direct, bought the 65 million shares yesterday, according to sources.

The shares were auctioned off by Kaupthing, which took ownership of the shares after they were controversially transferred without the company’s knowledge, leading to the dismissal of Ronnie this year. 

The move will raise questions over the possibility of Ashley bidding for JJB.

Sources told Retail Week that an Ashley takeover would raise fewer objections on competition grounds now that JJB has disposed of its lifestyle division and sold its fitness arm to Dave Whelan.

If a proposed company voluntary arrangement by the rump JJB goes through, it would be left with around 250 stores.

A JJB spokesman confirmed that the sale of the shares had gone through.