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Newcastle United takeover – Competition Appeal Tribunal tweet 24 hours ahead of hearing

2 weeks ago
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The Newcastle United takeover saga rumbles on, with a CAT (Competition Appeal Tribunal) jurisdiction hearing scheduled for 10.30am tomorrow (Wednesday 29 September 2021).

The case is ‘St James Holdings Limited v The Football Association Premier League Limited’ to give its formal title.

Or in layman’s terms…Mike Ashley v Premier League, as he desperately tries to get his cash from the Saudis, as well as any other compensation / damages he might dream of getting paid out by the Premier League itself if he (Mike Ashley) can win his case(s).

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 is demanding the Premier League 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.

On Tuesday morning, 24 hours before the hearing, the CAT tweeting how Newcastle United fans can follow proceedings tomorrow, with a direct link to a Livestream to be publicised on Wednesday AM.

(If you want to find/follow them on Twitter, you need to go to @CATribunal)

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.”

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.

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.”

Not all media / journalists are quite so hopeful about Wednesday’s hearing being a major step forward on the Newcastle United takeover trail though…

Luke Edwards of The Telegraph declaring on Twitter:

“You will hear a lot about huge moment for getting takeover back on track.

“Ignore it.

“This is preliminary hearing to decide whether there is a CAT case to hear.

“The Premier League want it thrown out.

“If they lose this week they will appeal.

“It [Newcastle United takeover] is not any closer to happening.”

We will all see tomorrow for ourselves, if we tune in / livestream, as to whether Wednesday brings any progress, clarity, or whatever.

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