'Lobbying' against Newcastle United takeover highlighted at CAT hearing
A QC representing Mike Ashley’s St James Holdings has highlighted a Qatari broadcaster’s alleged ‘lobbying’ against a Newcastle United takeover at a tribunal hearing.
Ashley has brought an anti-competition claim against the Premier League after Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund pulled out of a £300million deal to buy the club last year.
Today’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) jurisdiction hearing will decide whether the case can proceed.
The Premier League this morning argued that the issues were the same as those which will be addressed by an arbitration hearing early next year – and, as such, the CAT case should not go forward. However, Daniel Jowell, representing St James Holdings, said: “This is quite a different claim, and is a sound prima facie claim.”
Jowell also drew the three-man panel’s attention to alleged ‘lobbying’ by beIN Sports, which has the Premier League’s broadcasting rights for the Middle East North Africa region. There was also opposition from other clubs, according to Jowell.
"At the time Premier League was reaching its decision, beIN was in the midst of negotiations with Premier League for another three-year rights deal,” said Jowell.
"It was very publicly reported at the time that beIN media group actively lobbied the Premier League against the takeover of Newcastle."
Ashley, United’s owner, is claiming loss and damages from the Premier League for a “loss of sale”.
Jowell added: "It’s compensation for the loss of the sale that it’s seeking damages. The club may well have suffered loss, but its loss will take a very different form. Its loss is in the form of the extra investment it would have under a new owner."