THE pressure on Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell has been ratcheted up after a number of investors in the retailer publicly voiced opposition to his re-election ahead of a crunch vote next week.

Hellawell has presided over a long list of controversies at the Mike Ashley-controlled tracksuit chain, and has pledged to step down if he does not get the support of a majority of independent shareholders at the firm’s AGM on Wednesday.

The former West Yorkshire chief constable and government drugs tsar is now sweating on his future after Royal London Asset Management and Standard Life Aberdeen said they would oppose his reappointment.

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Ashley Hamilton Claxton, corporate governance manager at Royal London, said the firm “continues to show a serious disregard for shareholders’ views about the governance and management of the company.

“We have no confidence in the ability of the firm’s chairman and non-executive directors to provide effective oversight and protect the interests of minority investors.

“For this reason, we will be voting against the firm’s CEO, chairman of the board and the lead independent director.”