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Mike Ashley makes known publicly believes Newcastle United takeover ‘resolution’ is happening – Report

11 months ago

Mike Ashley and the potential Newcastle United takeover is back on the agenda.

July is when the long awaited arbitration case will be heard against the Premier League.

Back on 5 March 2021, Mike Ashley released an official statement (see below) regarding the Newcastle United Takeover arbitration.

The statement via the football club, revealed that he / Newcastle United had lost out on a High Court judgement to have the Chairman of the takeover arbitration panel removed, the NUFC owner also confirming that he had lost when it came to his attempts to make the full case available to the public.

However, despite those setbacks, Sky Sports News said that Mike Ashley had told them that he knows he has a very strong case that he can win and that this Newcastle United takeover can still be ‘pushed through’…

Mike Ashley also declaring that he is ‘fighting tooth and nail and wants to give Newcastle United fans what they deserve.’

Obviously Mike Ashley doing anything to purely just try and benefit Newcastle United fans is beyond laughable.

However, on the issue of a Newcastle United takeover, Mike Ashley making a fortune from the Saudi willingness to pay far more than the club is really worth, does on this occasion coincide with the wishes of the NUFC fanbase to be rid of him finally. So technically, we are all on the same side…to make multi-billionaire Mike Ashley even richer. Talk about deals with the devil…

Thursday morning has seen an update from the Chronicle on the Newcastle United takeover and arbitration front, saying that Mike Ashley has been keen to say privately that he is confident of a successful resolution from this July 2021 arbitration hearing AND Ashley has also been happy to ‘publicly’ make known through his people via the media that he is confident of success.

For Newcastle United fans, it is very difficult to know what to think.

At one extreme you have a small number of Newcastle fans who are totally confident that the Saudi takeover is definitely happening and that the Premier League are going to be totally exposed by Mike Ashley’s legal moves via arbitration and the anti-competition case.

Whilst at the other extreme, you have the Newcastle supporters who have completely given up on the Saudi takeover, believing Mike Ashley is just trying to throw blame the way of the Premier League and cause problems for them, as well as potentially picking up compensation if successful. Indeed, many of these NUFC supporters not convinced that the Saudis are still even live potential buyers.

However, for the vast majority of supporters, they sit in the middle of these two extremes, a bit like sitting in the middle of a maze and hoping that suddenly a way out of this nightmare will become visible. Ideally, a sudden announcement that Mike Ashley has packed his bags and Charnley and Bruce have done the same, with new ambitious owners ready to get on with the job of clearing up the mess that Ashley and his minions have made of our great club.

That is an ideal scenario but history / experience tells us to be cautious, this Newcastle United takeover saga with the Saudi backing has almost exactly dovetailed with the virus crisis, the timings almost exact.

The first four of five months of virus lockdown and other measures were actually made a bit easier to bear for many Newcastle fans as at the same time it looks for weeks / months as though it was only a case of when the Newcastle United takeover was going to be confirmed, only for then the dramatic announcement by the consortium that they felt they had no other option to withdraw from their takeover attempt. Though both Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers were keen to stress at the same time that they still hoped a solution could be found.

Reality is that now after a year and a half or so of this Newcastle United takeover saga, we are only four days away from the NUFC squad beginning pre-season preparations and the club is in an absolute mess.

No new first team squad signings, Mike Ashley allowing only free transfers and loans plus maybe the odd bargain basement buy, talk of a realistic bid to be made for Joe Willock is simply laughable. The club refusing to communicate with the fans at every level, no idea of what has been agreed (or not) with around half a dozen senior players whose contracts were set to end yesterday (30 June 2021), no new kit deal confirmed, no new shirt designs announced, no accounts (from two seasons ago!) made public and indeed Ashley having delayed their publication now until at least the end of July 2021, no season ticket details made public to fans….

Plus, with Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley having broken their promises to communicate with the fans and not just leave it solely to whoever happens to be manager (or head coach…), it has meant since Steve Bruce walked away after the Fulham match on 23 May 2021, absolutely nobody at Newcastle United, including Bruce, has spoken to the media / fans about what is happening, if anything…

Newcastle United Official Statement – 5 March 2021:

‘NUFC v EPL public statement to be considered following publication of the two judgments:

Today the High Court handed down judgment in NUFC’s application to have the Chairman of the Arbitration Panel under the Premier League’s (‘EPL’) Rules removed from hearing its claim concerning the proposed takeover of the Club. The Club asked for the Chairman to be removed on the ground of apparent bias.

The Club made the application because two weeks after the Chairman had been appointed the lawyers representing the Premier League, Bird & Bird, disclosed information that the Club had previously been unaware of. In particular, Bird & Bird disclosed that the Chairman had provided confidential advice to the EPL in 2017.

Although the advice was not provided to the Club, the Club was informed that the Chairman had advised the EPL on amendments to its ‘Owners and Directors Test’ (‘OADT’) in Section F of its Rules. Shortly after the Chairman provided that advice in 2017 the Rules were changed to prevent a foreign owner involved in alleged broadcasting piracy from passing the test.

This information concerned the Club given the following context: in a much publicised letter to EPL clubs in April 2020, BeIN Sports called for the EPL to “strictly apply” the OADT to prevent the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, PIF, from being involved in the takeover of the Club because BeIN alleged that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (‘the KSA’) was involved in broadcasting piracy. Later that year, the EPL decided that the KSA controlled the PIF and was therefore a ‘Director’ under its Rules. The Club disputes this analysis and brought an arbitration to reverse the decision. As today’s Judgment records, the Club’s case is that the arbitration is wider than simply the definition of ‘Director’ and part of the Club’s challenge is to the lawfulness of the EPL’s approach when considering the takeover.

The Chairman had also failed to disclose, when he was appointed, that he had previously been appointed by Bird & Bird and, in the last 3 years, had been an arbitrator in 12 cases involving Bird & Bird. When challenged by the Club, prior to the High Court claim, the Chairman did not agree to step down. The Club’s concerns were heightened when he then engaged in unilateral communications with Bird & Bird about the Club’s challenge, which is expressly against the EPL arbitration rules. In his private emails with the EPL’s lawyers he asked if they wanted him to carry on as Chairman, and he later explained that if they had asked him to step down he would have done so. The private email exchange was only disclosed after Bird & Bird suggested it should be.

Although the Court was critical of these communications, describing them as an “error of judgment” the Court refused the Club’s application to remove the Chairman on grounds of apparent bias.

The Club is disappointed with the Court’s judgment on this issue. As noted at the end of the Judgment, the Club submitted that the Judge did not address all of the Club’s arguments. The Club is committed to the speedy and fair determination of its claim so that the proposed takeover can go ahead as soon as possible. However, it felt it had to make this application given the need for the dispute to be determined by way of a fair process. The Club is considering whether or not to pursue an appeal.

The Club argued for the hearing to be in public but lost on that argument. The Club also wanted the Judgment to be published, even though it was dissatisfied with the outcome. Meanwhile, the EPL attempted to prevent it from being published at all. The EPL said that if it was published it should be heavily redacted and anonymised so that readers would not be able to identify the dispute. Unfortunately, this is consistent with the EPL’s lack of transparency over the takeover. The Club won on this point. The Judge rejected the EPL’s arguments and said there was a “public interest” in publication of the Judgment. The Club welcomes the fact that at least its supporters, and the wider public interested in the takeover and the dispute, will now be able to have some information about the process.

The Club shall continue to actively pursue its claim in the arbitration and calls on the EPL to resolve the matter in a speedy and transparent way that does not prevent the substantial investment into English football, and the North East region, that the proposed takeover would bring.’


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