Spoof game backfired.
The sports retailer, currently bidding pounds 133.1m for Newcastle United, is understood to have proposed the game of 'spoof' after failing to agree payment of a bank's legal fees.
The six-figure bill was presented by Merrill Lynch in connection with the flotation of Mr Ashley's business empire Sports Direct. The game, which is popular with city traders, reportedly followed hours of negotiations between the 42-year-old, and is thought to have cost Sports Direct shareholders up to pounds 200,000.
Merrill Lynch banker Simon Mackenzie-Smith is reported to have agreed to the game to break the deadlock.
Spoof was originally a pub game, traditionally used to decide who would buy the next round of drinks. But in recent years it has become popular in the city. In a one-on-one game, each player draws between zero and three coins from their pocket and holds them concealed in a clenched fist.
If a player correctly guesses the total number of coins held by both taking part they are awarded a point.
The winner is usually the first to 10 points. If a player believes the total is zero they shout 'spoof'.