The stage is set for Amazon challenge...Ecommerce service provider Global Sports has agreed to buy troubled e-tailer Ashford.com for about $14m in cash and stock. The deal, which has yet to be approved by Ashford shareholders, is expected to close by the first quarter of 2002. Ashford shareholders will receive 0.0076 of a Global Sports share plus 12.5 cents a share, for each of their Ashford equity. A spokeswoman at Ashford said that all staff are guaranteed employment until February 2002. In the meantime, the management team will work out who will stay and who will go. Global Sports is one of the few ecommerce companies that are prospering in the current market conditions. It has built a powerful business model and is expected to be profitable within the next two quarters. The company is set to compete with Amazon.com, which is becoming more and more dependent on revenue from partnerships with traditional retailers to whom it provides ecommerce services.