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Newcastle United takeover Competition Appeal Tribunal hearing today – Only one thing certain

2 weeks ago
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The Newcastle United takeover CAT (Competition Appeal Tribunal) jurisdiction hearing goes ahead at 10.30am today (Wednesday 29 September 2021).

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

In the anti-competition action, Mike Ashley is demanding the Premier League reconsider the Newcastle United takeover deal, with in addition the NUFC owner also seeking damages, interest and costs.

I have watched with interest the comments / debate amongst Newcastle fans in the lead up to this hearing this morning.

I get the impression that for many of them / you, there is an expectation of some new classic courtroom drama, a modern day To Kill A Mockingbird, or 12 Angry Men (both are much watches if you haven’t seen the films).

Sadly, instead I think it will be a non-classic 12 Angry Geordies (plus many more thousands) after watching (or reading about) today’s proceedings.

That is the only one thing for certain, in my opinion, at this Newcastle United takeover Competition Appeal Tribunal hearing today.

I totally understand just how frustrated and end of their tether Newcastle fans are, with both 15 seasons of Mike Ashley and then Steve Bruce’s ‘progress’ on the pitch this season (according to Bruce) on top of that.

This leads to desperately hoping that things like this hearing this morning will bring some kind of instant out of the blue solution / breakthrough to our misery.

It won’t.

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

On Tuesday the CAT tweeted as to how Newcastle United fans can follow proceedings today, with a direct link to a Livestream to be publicised this morning..

The livestream link is set to be available as from 9am ahead of the 10.30 hearing and you need to go to @CATribunal to find it.

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 and 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.”

I do really really hope that all your (and mine!) dreams come true today and a modern day Henry Fonda produces a magnificent performance to destroy the Premier League and all kinds of revelations then flow and a Newcastle United takeover magically happens…

However, I would urge you all to be realistic and ready for today’s hearing to be something that leaves you thinking ‘Is that it???’

This is simply a preliminary hearing to decide whether they can take jurisdiction and the anti-competition case can go ahead.

Even if the answer is a yes, the odds are very much on the Premier League then appealing against that decision, with then even more weeks / months before we even get another hearing to decide on that likely appeal.

We dream of progress, clarity, or whatever, but once things go to court / tribunal / legal arena, it is usually the legal teams on both sides who for a very long length of time will be the only ones enjoying the seemingly never ending legal proceedings, as they rack up the charging hours.

Personally, I would absolutely settle for it if we were somehow guaranteed that Mike Ashley would no longer be the owner of Newcastle United by the start of the 2022/23 (hopefully Premier League) season.

It won’t happen by the time we play Wolves on Saturday, or indeed any time soon.

As always, I hope I am proved wrong with my ‘negativity’…

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