Mike Ashley in Talks with Nike

UK-based sports retailer and brand owner Sports Direct, headed up by maverick Mike Ashley, is reported to be in talks with Nike about the brand’s acquisition of UK football brand Umbro. Sports Direct owns 29.9 percent of Umbro and could block the deal. The UK’s second largest sports retailer JJB also owns a 10 percent stake in Umbro.

Meanwhile, the UK’s Office of Fair Trading is looking at the Nike-Umbro deal to see if there is potential to refer it to the Competition Commission.

Sports Direct, which floated on the London Stock Exchange in February this year, reported first-half profit before tax down 35 percent to $52 million on sales down 7 percent to £668 million. It issued a profits warning for next year after the England football team was knocked out of the 2008 European Cup last month.