Troubled UK sportswear retailer JJB Sports Plc has come out in support of its executive chairman Sir David Jones, after it was revealed at the weekend that he had received a GBP1.5m loan from Mike Ashley, the owner of arch rival Sports Direct.

The loan had raised questions of possible conflicts of interest - but JJB today (7 July) said the money was for business rather than personal use.

It was, the company said, invested in Advanced Network Technologies (ANT), a private technology company in which Sir David and his family are majority investors.

Details of the loan, including interest rates and the option to convert the loan into shares in ANT, were made known to the company's executive directors and its financial and legal advisers earlier this year, JJB explained in a statement.

"They viewed the arrangement as a private one concerning Mr Ashley and Sir David and not one requiring public disclosure."

The arrangement was made before former Next boss Sir David joined JJB as a non-executive director at the end of last year.

It "has not given and does not give rise to any conflict of interest," JJB stressed.

The company added that Sir David intends to repay the loan as soon as possible, and that "the board considers the matter closed."

The loan row undermines the progress Sir David has made at restructuring JJB Sports and its sports retail business since he was named executive chairman in January.

The former non executive deputy chairman of Wm Morrison Supermarkets, and non executive chairman of Shop Direct Ltd (Littlewoods) has successfully disposed of the Group's fitness clubs business for GBP83.4m.

He has also seen the firm through company voluntary arrangements (CVA) to pay landlords of closed stores with one-off payments instead of ongoing rent the CVA process, and a bank refinancing.

Details of the loan were revealed at the weekend, forcing JJB on Monday to reveal it is trying to raise GBP50m (US$80.6m) to fund its turnaround plan.