Newcastle United issue explosive takeover statement as Mike Ashley raises stakes with Premier League

Newcastle United have called for the takeover arbitration process to be made public.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.

Owner Mike Ashley is trying to resurrect a £300million sale to a consortium which included Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) through a legal process.

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Ashley wants the arbitration process to be public, arguing the Premier League should “have no reason to be afraid of the public spotlight” if it has acted “lawfully and properly”.

The club statement read: "The club continues to receive requests for updates on its current arbitration claim against the Premier League (EPL) considering the lawfulness of the EPL’s decisions regarding the proposed takeover of the club involving the PIF.

“Unfortunately, the club is unable to make any comment about the arbitration. The EPL Rules provide the entire arbitration process is confidential.

“However, both parties can agree for it to be in public. The club believes it should be.

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“The issues at stake, including the lawfulness of the EPL’s decision making process and the widely publicised alleged influence of the EPL’s commercial partners on the EPL’s decisions, are of far wider interest to other football clubs, fans and the public in general.

“The recent attempted breakaway by some EPL clubs – and the reaction of the government and public to it – has again highlighted the need for transparency and fairness in football governance.

"Gone are the days when important decisions that affect clubs and their fans should be made secretly, behind closed doors and away from the public eye.

“The club has nothing to hide with respect to the arbitration and invites the EPL to agree that it should no longer be held behind closed doors. If the EPL has acted lawfully and properly, it should have no reason to be afraid of the public spotlight.

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“To date, the EPL has strongly resisted any public scrutiny of its decision-making process.

"It tried, and failed, to prevent the High Court’s judgement about elements of the arbitration being published last February. It is currently attempting to prevent the competition courts considering a claim by the club’s sellers from taking place in public, arguing that too should be held in confidential arbitration.

“So the club has invited the EPL to agree – as the claim raises such important issues of sports governance, transparency and openness – that it should be held in public.

"The club is prepared for every stage of the process to be in public: the public should be able to see the parties’ evidence and arguments as well as the full decision of the Tribunal when it is made.

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“The government quite rightly threatened to intervene in reaction to the proposed breakaway from the EPL earlier this year, and the reaction of football fans and the wider public was instrumental in stopping the emergence of the European Super League.

“If the EPL continues to insist that the club’s claim must be determined behind closed doors, the club asks that MPs, the government, the media and the general public call on the EPL to finally accept public scrutiny of its decision-making process.”