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Saudi Arabia PIF refused to allow Mike Ashley to retain shareholding in Newcastle United – Legal claims

2 months ago
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December 2021 saw Mike Ashley begin legal proceedings against Amanda Staveley.

The former Newcastle United owner claiming that the member of the consortium now owning the football club, had broken the terms of an agreement.

That agreement saw Mike Ashley loaning Amanda Staveley £10m to cover costs incurred in the takeover transaction and Ashley demanding immediate repayment because he claimed Ms Staveley broke certain conditions on which the loan was made. Amanda Staveley in the defence filed, mentioning that they (she and her husband) took on that loan for the benefit of all in the consortium, to help enable the takeover to happen ASAP.

Well, Amanda Staveley and husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi filed their written defence to Ashley’s claims on 12 February 2022.

Then Mike Ashley made an amended claim to the court on Wednesday 15 June 2022:

The Athletic reporting on that amended claim on Monday 20 June said:

In a court order, issued by the Hon Mrs Justice Moulder, Ashley has been informed that he must pay Staveley and Ghodoussi’s costs in relation to “considering” the amendments. The Newcastle co-owners have until 4pm on Friday to submit their amended defence.

Within the latest filing, it is claimed that “there had been discussions in or around July 2021 about Mr Ashley retaining a small stake” in Newcastle following the proposed sale to the consortium, which included the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), as majority 80 per cent shareholders, and the Reuben Brothers and Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners, who were each to hold 10 per cent stakes. Ashley claims that, while “PIF had been open” to him continuing as a minority shareholder, Staveley “was opposed to Mr Ashley’s continued involvement”.

Moving on to today (Wednesday 29 June) and The Athletic have now updated us on the amended defence reply to the above, made to the courts by the Newcastle United part owners on Friday 24 June:

However, in their amended defence, Staveley and Ghodoussi refute this suggestion, insisting that PIF, the 80 per cent majority stakeholders, “opposed Mr Ashley’s proposal to retain a minority shareholding” following the £305 million takeover, which was completed on October 7, 2021.

The Newcastle co-owners insist that Ashley made the proposal before April 8, 2020, rather than “in or around July 2021”, as the retailer claimed. They state that the consortium rejected this offer, “in part because of the extensive criticism that had been directed at Mr Ashley by Newcastle United FC fans and the press” and because they “believed Mr Ashley was likely to disagree with” their “capital expenditure proposals for investing” in the club.

So basically, Amanda Staveley and her husband responding (seemingly on behalf of all the NUFC owners).

Saying firstly, that it was over two years ago (April 2020) and not ‘around July 2021’ when Mike Ashley tried this on with the incoming owners, trying to cling on to some kind of influence at the football club.

Then secondly, making it absolutely clear that ALL of the new owners, including Saudi Arabia PIF and the Reubens, were completely against Mike Ashley having any ongoing shareholding in Newcastle United.

The reasons (according to the court filings from Staveley and Ghodoussi) being because NUFC fans and all decent media know that Ashley is absolutely poison where Newcastle United are concerned AND that Ashley would be very much against the club showing ambition WITH him having to financially commit to that as well as the rest of the ownership.

Newcastle United fans always dreaded that Mike Ashley would have some ongoing involvement / influence on Newcastle United, even if he sold the club.

No surprise to find out he was trying this on and thankfully the new owners having none of it. It would have been a massive own goal if they’d allowed him to do so.

Another part of this legal action by Ashley, saw the former owner calling foul over the Sports Direct and other grubby advertising having been removed from St James Park. However, what emerged during this ongoing legal conflict, was Mike Ashley admitting that not a penny had been paid by Sports Direct in the last three seasons (2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22). This was despite Ashley and Sports Direct publicly promising back in 2019 that £2m per year would be paid.

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