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Newcastle United takeover CAT hearing – ‘Premier League and NUFC are deep in confidentiality issues’

1 month ago

The Newcastle United takeover saga rumbles on, with a CAT jurisdiction hearing scheduled for 10.30am on Wednesday 29 September 2021.

Mike Ashley is also pursuing arbitration with the Premier League but it has already been announced that it will be into 2022 before that will be commencing.

In the meantime, there is this anti-competition action by Mike Ashley who wants the Premier League to reconsider the Newcastle United takeover deal, with in addition Ashley also seeking damages, interest and costs.

The CAT jurisdiction hearing on Wednesday will be in front of a panel of three people, with the panel having to decide in this first instance whether the anti-competition case can go ahead, or whether it is simply duplicating / too similar to that separate arbitration hearing.

Mike Ashley’s anti-competition claim alleges that the Premier League were in infringement of articles 101 and 102 of the Competition Act 1998, when they failed to approve the attempted 2020 Newcastle United takeover by the Saudi PIF backed consortium.

The court documents put forward by Mike Ashley’s legal team detail:

“The Claim states that the Defendant exercised its power to block the Proposed Takeover when it decided between June and September 2020 that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would be a director exercising ‘control’ over NUFC, for the purposes of the Rules (‘the Director Decision’).

“In reaching the Director Decision, the Defendant failed to apply the Rules in a fair, objective and non-discriminatory fashion and/or used its powers under the Rules for the improper purpose of promoting its own commercial interests and/or the interests of its business associates and/or certain of the PL member-clubs in a manner that was detrimental to competition and consumers.

“As a result of the breaches by the Defendant, the Claimant has suffered loss and damage. In particular, the Claimant has lost the immediate sale, or lost the likely opportunity of an immediate sale of its shares in NUL (which owns NUFC) to the Consortium Company.”

Wednesday’s hearing is scheduled to start at 10.30am and will be live streamed on CAT’s official website.

Only days ahead of this anti-competition hearing, an interesting update (see below) from journalist Simon Zekaria who points to just how desperate the Premier League are to keep everything ‘confidential’, in other words, behind closed doors and away from public scrutiny.

Simon Zekaria stating: ‘I have learnt that the Premier League and NUFC are deep in confidentiality issues. Even for next week’s hearing, which has a narrow legal focus, there is lot that they don’t want to be revealed.’

We await with interest to see if anything of note is revealed during proceedings on Wednesday but a word of warning overall.

Even if the three person panel on Wednesday do give the go ahead for jurisdiction to be approved and this anti-competition case to go ahead, there is the possibility, indeed high probability, that the Premier League could then appeal and additional months of waiting before that appeal could then be heard.

Simon Zekaria of MLexclusive:

“Premier League’s UK court challenge against Newcastle United FC risks broad questions over secretive sports governance.

“Key takeaways:

-PL will try to torpedo NUFC antitrust claim

-PL will argue PL clubs bound my membership rules to resolve disputes in confidential arbitration

-PL eager to keep substantive details of Saudi takeover out of open court

-PL to argue NUFC competition law case risks duplication with live arbitration

-Premier League under wide pressure due to reforms of sporting governance, competition-law scrutiny over ESL (European Super League) including advancing claim from FC Barcelona, others

“I have learnt that the Premier League and NUFC are deep in confidentiality issues.

“Even for next week’s hearing, which has a narrow legal focus, there is lot that they don’t want to be revealed.”


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