Sports Direct in running for Umbro
The discount sportswear chain, which is controlled by Newcastle United owner Mr Ashley, owned a 30% stake in the Cheadle-based business before Nike took it private in a £285 million takeover in 2007.
The American sportswear giant said last week that it wanted to offload Umbro and Cole Haan, a leather goods company, to increase its focus on its core brand and on faster-growing labels such as Converse.
Umbro, which was founded in 1924, has worked with the Football Association since 1984. As well as providing all playing and training kit for various England teams, it supplies the Ireland national team and Premier League champions Manchester City.
The business achieved annual revenues of 224 million US dollars (£146 million) last year, but this is down on the level seen in 2006 prior to the takeover by Nike. In 2009, the US company wrote down the value of its investment in Umbro by 240 million US dollars (£156 million).