British businessman Mike Ashley joins William Storey and Gymshark as the latest rumoured party linked with taking over Reading Football Club.

A well-known name to many, with a retail empire and a long history in football, he sent many tongues wagging when his two branded helicopters were seen outside the SCL Stadium on Sunday.

But, who is Mike Ashley?

Business Empire

A 59-year-old born in the Midlands, Ashley was predominantly raised and educated in Buckinghamshire, attending Burnham Grammar School.

Opening his first sports shop in Maidenhead in 1982, he has become the country's leading sports retailer with his Sports Direct Group.

He went on to acquire household names such as House of Fraser,  Jack Wills, GAME, Flannels and Evans Cycles.

Not without his controversies, the working conditions at many of his brands have been questioned.

According to the Sunday Times Rich List in 2021, Ashley was the 61st richest person in the UK with an estimated net worth of over £2.7b. 

Football Interests

A big fan of the sport, Ashley brought Newcastle United for over £130m in 2007.

Not well-liked on Tyneside, the Toon Army have accused Ashley of a lack of ambition and were relegated twice from the Premier League during his decade at the helm.

However, he has been praised by those in the sport for running a tight ship and ensuring losses remained very low in comparison to other football clubs.

Selling Newcastle to the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia for over £300m in 2021, they have since gone on to qualify for the Champions League and reach their first domestic cup final for over 20 years.

He had a short involvement with Scottish giants Rangers, but this ended with supporter protests and a quick sale within three years.

In November 2022 Ashley purchased Coventry City's ground, the CBS Stadium, and remains the landlord for the Sky Blues.

Reading Chronicle:

Splitting opinion, Reading supporters are hopeful of Mr Yongge selling the club.

He has officially put the club on the market and has seen interest from at least three parties.

The club are hoping for a quick sale, with two overdue tax bills due and payday for staff and players arriving in under 24 hours.