Exclusive: NCSL reveal Spurs, Liverpool and Man City bombshells in Newcastle United takeover fight as they take aim at Premier League
Newcastle Consortium Supporters Ltd’s Keith Patterson opens up on legal challenge in explosive first interview since Premier League revelations
Newcastle Consortium Supporters Ltd’s Keith Patterson has revealed the real reasons why he believes the Newcastle United takeover has stalled.
Speaking exclusively with the Gazette the lifelong Magpies fan – who with Gordon Stein is taking the Premier League to court for what NCSL see as potential breaches of anti-competition law – has dropped some Newcastle United takeover bombshells and pointed the finger not only at the league, but also top flight rivals Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
Patterson also reveals his thoughts on the Premier League’s nine-page response to NCSL’s Letter Before Action, the top flight’s ‘no red flags’ claim, QC Robert O’Donoghue, his company’s legal standing – called into question by many – and takes aim at PL chiefs with a ‘we are coming for you’ message.
How NCSL reacted to the Premier League’s nine-page letter
"I was surprised by their letter (read details here). They didn't answer any of the competition charges I put against them.
"I am very much looking forward to running them through a court because I am sure we will win the arguments – and we only have to win one. If they’ve acted in any way against competition law they are in trouble.
"To quantify what that trouble may be, directors can be struck off and fines range up to 10% of world turnover – that's significant for these level of organisations.
“We are talking about the Premier League, some of their members and some of their associates.”
‘We were shocked’ – the Premier League confidentiality breach blunder
"By real surprise, when the EPL wrote to us, we read it in point 18 of our letter, it said Newcastle United had a law case with the Premier League. We were shocked.
"No one has made us aware of that. You hear rumours that QCs were lined up but no one has confirmed to us a case was running.
"And it sounds like that is going at a snail's pace. Now that everyone can talk about it and confidentiality has been broken by the Premier League, hopefully Newcastle United can accelerate that as well. We all certainly hope so.”
The Premier League’s delay tactics – why try to talk NCSL out of action in league response?
“Why can't the Premier League have six cases running at them, everyone, all in one go? Why should we wait in line? That is their problem, not ours.
"We are being told by the Premier League to back away from our case while they fight another case.
"Call me a simple Geordie, if you like, but tell me this... If you robbed a bank in January and then you stole a car in August, can you tell the man who owned the car not to take you to court because you were busy dealing with the bank robbery case?
"Am I missing something? The club can get on with their case – with a team of QCs, the best in the country – and I’ll do mine. I am challenging them on competition law.
“Maybe they are trying to stop both of them? Maybe they are so determined to get Project Big Picture through they will fight both? Only time will tell on this one. But one thing is certain. If they have nothing at all to hide then they ought to expedite both cases. So the fans need to hear that the club are getting full expedition to their case, because already they have told us that they will not agree to expediting ours.”
Shock Spurs and Liverpool revelations – the deals that may have influenced their reported resistance
"Part of the consortium had already approached Liverpool before Newcastle. They walked away of their own accord, however it was published Liverpool walked away. Is there sour grapes there? Who knows.
“Why would Tottenham not want it to happen? I could not understand that.
“But we have seen information that explains why there is the obsession with Project Big Picture and why we feel there is such a determination to stop PIF investing in Newcastle United.
“Tottenham Hotspur, in a negotiation which broke down in March 2019, approached investors in the region we are talking about – two months before the Newcastle deal was ironed out – to buy the football club for £2.5billion, with a further £1billion in add ons.
“The deal was taken to the investors in Saudi Arabia, by a dealmaker named as Eldridge Investments, and rejected.
“The whole deal totals £3.5billion – Newcastle was set to be sold for one tenth of that price. I have had that exact same information from three different credible sources.
“That concerns me. People are trying to prevent our deal going through, but were trying to so a similar deal themselves for 10 times the amount. But I feel on this alone that fans of both Spurs and Newcastle need to learn this so that they understand what is happening within their club. Then we can go somewhere to appreciating why this willing buyer and willing seller cannot do a simple deal.
“At the very least it adds to the intrigue.
“In August, I wrote that Liverpool and Tottenham were opposed to the deal in my letter to Richard Masters. Then in November I get this information. Something is really not right with the whole thing.
“If one or more company tries to stop another entering the market this is anti-competitive.
"Spurs came so close to pulling off a deal but then stood in the way of another? We will find out more with disclosure."
Documents that show Owners’ & Directors’ Test may have been applied differently for Man City
“My partner Gordon (Stein) is a professional. He knows his way around Companies House a little bit like Martin Dubravka knows his way around a six-yard box. So I rang him a few days ago with a hunch and said, do me a favour, do this job yourself and go and spend a night looking into the Man City takeover. And he did. He worked later into the early hours.
“He went to check Manchester City and their takeover. We suspect no one has done this – not the buyer or the seller in this depth.
"The only comparison to this deal was Man City, to our knowledge the only time a state-owned company wanted to buy a Premier League football club.
"I respect what Man City have done, I don't begrudge them this because their fans had tough times. But it was OK for them to come in but not the Saudis?
"We looked into their company changes and these documents, in the public domain, appear to confirm according to our legal sources that the Abu Dhabi royal princes have never been asked to become directors – but the Saudi princes have because PIF want to buy Newcastle? What’s worse is that the deal appears to be stalled just because they won’t agree to that!
"When the Queen, who does deals for the crown in this country or abroad, she doesn't get asked to be a director, they do a deal with the creditor of the company.
"When the Duchy of Cornwall, trades one billion pounds worth of property, Prince Charles does not get asked to sit on the board.
"To ask royalty to sit on a board is an insult. And I cannot begin to explain how much of an insult that was to the Saudis, an insult from the Premier League.
"What we are challenging is why are you putting rules in place for Newcastle United that were not in for Manchester City?
"At that stage I think the Owners’ and Directors’ Test (ODT) crumbles. I don't even think they will go to court."
'Answer the questions, or this will never go away' – the Premier League's ODT questioned
“I have no experience in this but it seems to me, a layman, that the ODT is to assess the money, where it comes from and whether you can legitimately use it to run a football club.
“Some people are passed in days, others weeks. What my concern is there has been a change in the Newcastle United test.
“My sources tell me the people in the deal were told there were no red flags. You'd likely know if there were red flags in an ODT on day one, or very close to it. 17 weeks of no red flags? Either the applicants have become discreditable and changed, or something else has changed.
“I have an absolute certainty – and court will prove – they were told no red flags. Witnesses will prove it too.
“So after 17 weeks, where did those red flags suddenly come from? That's all we want to know.
"I think I know, but that does not matter. We need to know definitely. Answer the questions or this will never go away.”
‘We are coming after you, Premier League’ – and how the league could stop this
“If they said to me, 'come in with your solicitors and your barristers and we will have a behind-closed-doors meeting, Chatham House Rules’, I know exactly what documents I want and where from. That is on record.
"If that happens I believe the whole thing collapses. There are certain points of law we win, of that I have no doubts.
"There is a desperation to kick our fans into the long grass. There is a desperation to kick Newcastle United into the long grass.
"They want to rubbish our claim. They said we had no standing, but we can prove standing.
"Why are they trying to beat us on a technicality and threaten us on money, if they have nothing to hide from the fans of this country? Work with us to hear our points. Did you not agree in the DCMS meeting that football is nothing without fans? So back up those words and listen to these fans.
"What I can guarantee is we are coming. We are coming after you. We will stop at nothing.
"This claim that has been built will be fought. Whatever we have to do, this claim will be fought – whether that is by me, NCSL, or all of our fans.
"This claim will be heard. You won't stop it.”
‘Willing buyer and willing seller’
“What I had to know was the fans wanted this. NUST did that for me with their 97% support from their members. If it was 80% I still would have done it.
“I had to know if there was a buyer willing to buy and a seller willing to sell. I did that myself, through my contacts.
“I reached out to people – I never asked anything of them other than the answer to one question, are you prepared to sell and are you willing to buy? We got those answers.
“And I can categorically tell you the buyer is still there and the seller is also willing.”
‘Trust Robert O'Donoghue’ – what next for NCSL’s legal challenge?
"I can't tell fans everything. I can't tell fans how we are going to run our legal case.
"We put out press releases and we speak with our legal team. We can never breach any legal rules by asking questions on anything. We all understand the law and the procedures governing these matters. We have run larger cases than this in our lives.
"There is only so much I can say, but I will say as much as I can legally.
"Trust the process. Trust Robert O'Donoghue.
"If this goes through, and we sign players as good as Robert is on competition law, we will win the league!”