Sports Direct, whose controlling shareholder owns the Newcastle United soccer club, has emerged as a frontrunner to buy Umbro, the soccer kit maker Nike put up for sale last week, according to a report by

Nike, Inc. announced May 31 its intention to divest Umbro and Cole Haan to sharpen its focus on driving growth in the Nike, Jordan, Converse and Hurley brands. Nike expects to complete the sale by May 31, 2013.

Nike acquired Umbro, including  a 30 percent stake held by Sports Direct in 2008. The firm, which owns Sports World and Lillywhites stores as well as brands including Slazenger, Lonsdale, Dunlop and Everlast, said revenue rose 8.4 percent to £888.6 million.