Sports Direct shareholders have thwarted attempts by the retail giant to award founder Mike Ashley a bonus of 8m shares.
In a call held on Wednesday, investors shot down the plans for the bumper payout, worth £72.6m, despite the board lowering the threshold to pass the bonus scheme to 50%.
The group, which said it was "disappointed" by the shareholder response, was forced to cancel Friday's general meeting which had been scheduled specifically to vote on the proposal.
Billionaire Ashley, who already holds a 62% stake in the company, takes on much of the responsibility for Sports Direct's strategic decisions, but has opted not to take a regular salary or join the ordinary share plan.
The board has pointed to the 115% rise in the group's share price over the past year, as well as the £3bn increase in its market cap in the past five, as reasons why Ashley deserves such a large bonus award, saying he has been "central to this value creation".
Dave Singleton, the group's Non-Executive Director and Chairman of the remuneration committee, said: "During our on-going discussions with institutional shareholders, it became apparent that, while we had the support of some of our largest shareholders, we had not been able to secure the requisite level of shareholder approval.
"While the board is disappointed that this resolution will not now be passed, we respect shareholders' views. We remain convinced of the benefit of aligning Mike Ashley's interests with those of all other shareholders."
The group has also previously commented that "shareholders continue to benefit from his on-going commitment and involvement with the business".
The opposition to the bonus was reportedly led by larger funds, which, according to one analyst was because they felt the targets given as part of the scheme were not "forward looking enough".
According to the Guardian, the unnamed analyst said: "The first target was close to the consensus for the year to April 2014, which is nearly over, and the next for April 2015."
Investors are also said to have concerns over the size of the bonus, as well as the group's management style and its decision to in the past withhold certain pieces of financial information.
Notably, the group's biggest shareholder at 7%, Odey Asset Management, was in favour of the payout, having previously favoured the board's first attempt to hand 8m shares
- at the time worth £26m - to Ashley back in 2012. That move was rejected by around 40% of shareholders after the Association of British Insurer responded to the proposal by issuing a "red top" advice note, raising issues of significant concern.
The group now plans to put forward a third proposal for a new bonus plan at its September meeting. The details are so far somewhat limited, but the board has said that the company-wide scheme options would be granted over 25m shares, equal to around 4.2% of the issued share capital, conditional on the group reaching targets of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £480m in the 2016 financial year, £570m in 2017, £650m in 2018 and £750m in 2019 - reflecting around an 18% increase year-on-year.
However, the group did not say how many of the shares would be allotted to Ashley and the scheme would not apply to the 90% of employees who are on zero-hour contracts.
Keith Hellawell, Sports Direct's Chairman, said: "Sports Direct's Employee Bonus Share Scheme is one of the most wide-reaching and successful employee reward schemes in the UK.
"The success of the scheme is demonstrated by the shareholder value created, with the share price reaching an all-time high this week and now almost seven times higher than when the 2009 Employee Bonus Share Scheme was approved by shareholders."
Sports Direct shares were up 0.99% at 916p shortly before Thursday's close.