Mike Ashley
Mike Ashley sold 2.7% of his stake in Sports DirectGetty Images

Shares in Sports Direct took a tumble in early morning trading following owner Mike Ashley's decision to sell shares in the business worth £117m.

Goldman Sachs handled the sale of 15.4 million shares belonging to Ashley, constituting 2.6% of his stake in the business. The sale reduces his overall stake from 57.7% to 55%, worth around £2.5bn.

The release of cash will increase speculation that Ashley, who currently owns Newcastle United, is preparing to offer more in the way of emergency financing to cash-strapped Scottish football team Rangers.

Ashley already owns 9% of Rangers and has already lent them over £3m.

The stock value fell by as much as 5% to 722.5p when the London Stock Exchange opened on 21 January.

Goldman said the shares were sold to institutional investors via an accelerated bookbuild.

Shares in Sports Direct fell 10% last April when Ashley freed up over £200m by selling a 4% slice of the business.