Newcastle United fans hoping for free-to-air win after months of takeover frustration
Football fans have long watched streams of games – but next week will surely see a first.
Many Newcastle United fans plan to watch a stream of a Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) case brought by Mike Ashley’s St James Holdings Limited against the Premier League.
The jurisdiction hearing, which is scheduled to start at 10.30am on September 29, will decide whether the case can go forward.
It’s alleged that the Premier League were in infringement of articles 101 and 102 of the Competition Act 1998 when they failed to approve a proposed £300million takeover of the club by a consortium which included Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund last year.
This is what the court documents state: “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.”
Ashley, also pursuing arbitration, wants the Premier League to reconsider the deal. The club’s owner is also seeking damages, interest and costs.
The hearing, which will be heard by a three-man panel, won’t be as entertaining as a streamed game, though supporters hope it will at least be illuminating. The panel must decide if the case is too similar to the separate arbitration hearing, which has been put back to early next year.
If the CAT case is allowed to proceed, then the Premier League will almost certainly appeal. That process could take many more months.
United fans, however, will take a win, however small and however it comes, after a winless start to the Premier League season.