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Opinion

Newcastle United takeover to be passed on legal basis not blocked on political – Despite new PL letter

5 months ago
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It is now over eight weeks since the Newcastle United takeover was passed to the Premier League.

Widely reported that on 9 April 2020, 57 days ago, both Mike Ashley and those bidding to buy NUFC, forwarded documentation to the Premier League for them to do their checks and processes.

Two things are now abundantly clear.

Firstly, this private behind closed doors Premier League process was NEVER going to be finalised quickly.

Secondly, this incessant flow of media claims as to why the takeover may not happen was ALWAYS going to fill this void of week after week after week of waiting.

The latest headlines Newcastle fans have woken up to on Friday morning…

Exclusive: Premier League ‘fully considering’ calls to stop Newcastle’s Saudi Arabia-backed takeover

Premier League ‘fully considering’ calls to block Newcastle takeover

Richard Masters ‘sympathetic’ to Jamal Khashoggi fiancee’s calls to stop Newcastle takeover

Premier League ‘fully considering’ calls for Newcastle United takeover to be blocked

What this concerns is a letter from Premier League chief executive Richard Masters in reply to a letter sent on behalf of Hatice Cengiz by her lawyer, Rodney Dixon QC, Cengiz was the fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi. This letter on behalf of Hatice Cengiz, only the latest in a series that have been sent to the Premier League, the media, to Newcastle fans (via the media), letters accusing Saudi Arabia of using “sportswashing” to help order to cover up human rights abuses and other negative publicity the regime has attracted due to their actions.

Richard Masters has replied to Hatice Cengiz’ latest letter with (as seen and reported by The Telegraph):

“Of course, I remain extremely sympathetic to your client’s position, but I am unable to correspond in any more detail than we have already on this matter.

“Our process is strictly private and confidential and must remain so.

“For this reason, a meeting is not possible particularly in light of correspondence on this confidential matter appearing in the media.

“However, I assure you and your client that her representations are being fully considered in our process.”

The newspapers wanting to spin this letter from Masters as ‘proof’ that the Premier League are specifically looking at the contents of Hatice Cengiz’ letter(s) as something new / separate to what they have been looking at already.

The truth is though, that whilst you of course have every sympathy with Hatice Cengiz, there is absolutely nothing that is contained in her letter(s) that gives any additional information or bearing on the chances of the Newcastle United takeover going through.

I think it is fair to say that it is for political reasons that the Premier League are taking longer than might have been expected BUT that the Newcastle United takeover will be decided purely on a legal basis. This Richard Masters letter (Masters’ background is in sales and marketing so no doubt ‘his’ letter was written / checked by a PL lawyer) is simply a polite reply saying they are considering all relevant details / information in making their final decision.

Lawyers working on behalf of the Premier League going through the PL Owners and Directors’ Test and deciding line by line whether all the boxes are ticked.

The Premier League can’t block the NUFC takeover based on emotions and / or moral reasons, it has to be based on the law.

This is the biggest political football the Premier League has ever had to deal with, and no surprise that they feel the need to show they have taken plenty time to reach their conclusion, and make sure they don’t leave themselves open to any accusations of having missed anything or made a wrong decision.

If they did for some daft / bizarre purpose go down a political route of blocking the Newcastle United takeover, for reasons that had no legal basis to back them up, the Premier League would lay themselves open to massive legal issues if the Saudi bidders then took action. Which they would surely do, if feeling the decision was unjust.

So for Newcastle fans worrying ever more about whether the takeover will go through, I’d say to try and keep your cool.

I believe overwhelmingly that the deal will be passed by the Premier League and we will see the back of Mike Ashley at last, this delay is massively frustrating but was always going to happen due to the politics of the situation.

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