The 46.4 million shares had been set aside by Ashley to meet anticipated demand from City funds after the company, which has 465 shops including the Sports World chain, floated at£2.2 billion last month.
Despite a strong flotation price of 300p, the share price of the UK's biggest sports retailer has since slumped to 272.75p today, valuing the company at£1.84 billion.
The unsold shares have been returned to Ashley, who made£929 million when he sold a 43 per cent stake in Sports Direct in February. He retained ownership of the remaining 57 per cent of the business.
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