Sport Direct owner Mike Ashley is reported to be plotting a bid for rival JJB Sports’ fitness clubs business.

Ashley is understood to be in competition with JJB’s founder David Whelan and fitness club operator Fitness First who could also bid for the business, according to reports.

JJB is hoping that the sale will raise the beleaguered business up to£50 million to reduce its debt.

Last week JJB extended an agreement with its lenders to defer payments.

Reports over the weekend also suggest that suspended chief executive Chris Ronnie will be sacked within days following an investigation into his jointly owned shares in JJB.