Forsey, who has been with the firm for 32 years, resigned as CEO
on Thursday, it said.
Sports Direct has had a disastrous 2016. Lawmakers have
condemned it for "Victorian" working conditions, investors and
media have slammed it for dire corporate governance and trading
has been poor with a series of profit warnings issued.
Its shares, some 55 percent of which are owned by Ashley, have
slumped by 50 percent so far this year. They were up 2.3 percent
at 293 pence at 0730 GMT.
Under pressure from shareholders the company agreed on Tuesday
to carry out an independent inquiry into its working practices
An initial report undertaken by its legal advisers RPC and
published earlier this month had identified "serious
The 450-store sportswear chain said Forsey would be replaced by
Ashley, who previously held the title of executive deputy
chairman, with immediate effect.
Forsey has, however, agreed to facilitate a smooth handover of
"I feel like I have lost my right arm," Ashley said of Forsey's
departure in a statement.
No explanation was given for his exit.
"It looks like he has simply done the honorable thing, given the
recent criticisms of him in the Sports Direct working practices
report and the likely outcome of the corporate governance
review," said independent retail analyst Nick Bubb, noting that
Ashley "really runs the show" in any case.
But he said Forsey was valuable to Ashley as he acted as a
"human shield" to him.
Sports Direct said Ashley will continue to be supported by the
existing executive management team.
In addition, the firm said UK retail boss Karen Byers has been
promoted to the role of global head of operations, and Sean
Nevitt has been promoted to the role of global head of
commercial, both with immediate effect.
($1 = 0.7673 pounds)
(Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Sarah Young and Susan
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