Sports Direct International (SDI) issued an angry statement after shareholders in Findel, a specialized British retailer in which SDI owns a stake of 17.5 percent, rejected its proposed appointment of Benjamin Gardener as a board member at an extraordinary shareholders' meeting on Dec. 21. The proposed appointment was rejected by nearly 81 percent of those who voted, indicating that SDI was the only major shareholder in favor.

Findel owns Kitbag, an online football retailer, and Express Gifts, which sells an array of homewares, toys and other gifts online. In a circular issued before the vote, Findel's board strongly opposed Gardener's appointment, arguing that SDI was a competitor and questioning Gardener's credentials.

SDI's statement after the vote particularly pointed at Toscafund and Schroders, saying that it had suggested Gardener's appointment because it thought these two major shareholders supported it. SDI added that comments about Gardener's credentials in the circular and in the media had been unfair, inaccurate and unjustified.

SDI suggested that Findel's board had “underdelivered for its shareholders” and argued that it should focus on its performance, instead of rejecting specialist assistance. SDI added that Findel has been without a chief executive since March and that a transaction has yet to be agreed for the sale of Kitbag, despite a statement in September that it had been approached by an unnamed party. Findel previously told shareholders that the best way for SDI to contribute value was to make a fair bid for the entire company.