Mike Ashley, the founder of Sports Direct, hit back at City critics this weekend, branding unsupportive investors a bunch of cry babies. Sunday Times

The sports retail group, which owns brands such as Slazenger and Dunlop, lost almost a quarter of its value in a single day last week after a profit warning following the wettest June on record.

Ashley, who still owns a 57% stake in the company that floated five months ago, said: ‘I’ve got balls of steel. Some investors have been great and have been very supportive. But some of these City people act like a bunch of cry babies.

‘You meet a lot of incredibly smart people in the City who seem to be obsessively focused on a share price at that minute.’

The share-price collapse has caused fury in the City and investors are enraged by what they perceive as the company’s failure to communicate properly with them.

Ashley responded: ‘We didn’t hide anything. We don’t think the share price is a reflection of the company’s prospects.’ But he vowed to improve communications because ‘that is the right thing to do’.