Sports Direct have been hit with an unpaid tax bill of £605m from Belgian authorities

Sports Direct have been hit with an unpaid tax bill of £605m from Belgian authorities.

And the sporting retail giant blamed the huge bill on a 10-hour delay in revealing their end of year earnings today.

Sports Direct said the notice is not a formal tax assessment but a “process verbal” – and will now enter a mediation in order to respond to the authorities’ questions and provide them with documentation.

The firm claims it is “less than probable” that material VAT and penalties will be due in Belgium as result of the audit.

It comes just days after the Mike Ashley-led company wanted to ban the release of the new Rangers strip.

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Mike Ashley of Sports Direct

 And while the planning row over Flamingo Land continues to simmer on the banks of Loch Lomond.

House of Fraser, owned by the Ashley companies, is said to be struggling to increase customer footfall at Lomond Shores.

The fallout from Rangers’ latest court defeat to the retail giants has left club bosses reeling as they face coughing up millions of pounds in compensation.

The SUN told earlier this week how the setback could see their current Hummel kit deal axed next season.

Lionel Persey QC’s High Court judgement also revealed SDI Retail Services, a company in the Sports Direct Group, asked for an injunction banning Rangers from agreeing release dates for their second and third tops.

The feud between Rangers and Sports Direct was reignited last year after the Light Blues agreed the £10 million deal with Hummel.

 Rangers fans protest against Sports Direct in 2016

Rangers fans protest against Sports Direct in 2016.

SDI said Ibrox chiefs had been in breach of obligations under a deal relating to replica kit.

Rangers bosses disputed these claims – but Mr Persey ruled in favour of SDI.

Today, Sports Direct reported a six per cent slump in full-year core earnings, blaming the purchase of House of Fraser, which owns Lomond Shores.

The group said it made underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of £287.8 million pounds in the year to April 28.

Excluding House of Fraser, this figure rose to £339.4 million pounds.

The results were originally due on July 18, but the company and its auditor Grant Thornton claimed they needed more time to prepare the accounts.

They were re-scheduled for 6am on Friday but, after further delay, not released until 4.20pm.

Sports Direct also said its finance chief Jon Kempster would step down in September.

Ashley also owns Newcastle United, whose shares have fallen 44 per cent over the last year.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley could end up having to pay more to Steve Bruce and staff than he did to Rafa Benitez, the former Liverpool boss.

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