JJB Sports entered crucial talks with its landlords last night after selling its 55-gym fitness business to Dave Whelan, the owner of Wigan Athletic.

The deal will hand JJB £83.4m but last night JJB proposed it enter a company voluntary agreement that will allow it to negotiate improved terms with all its landlords at once. If these talks are not successful, the banks have said that they will withdraw their support.

The CVA will effectively give JJB its fourth extension on its £60m debt within a matter of months.

Sources close to the negotiations with Whelan said that they went to the wire yesterday as lawyers moved to accommodate the out-spoken Northern businessman’s terms. These included the highly unusual demand that he be allowed to park his car in the car park of the corporate headquarters of the Wigan-based JJB after the sale.

The Times