Revealed! How detail of Mike Ashley's Frasers Group letter highlights Newcastle United takeover intentions – but points finger at PCP Consortium

Mike Ashley-owned Frasers Group have pointed the finger of blame at Newcastle United’s potential owners-in-waiting as justification for axing their St James’ Park shop – but the mention of an ‘anticipated’ change of ownership highlights confidence remains in the £300m+ sale, which remains locked in legal red tape.

Last night the Daily Mail broke the news that staff at the stadium store were at risk of redundancy and Ashley was set to shut the doors ahead of new, as yet unannounced, shirt producer Castore taking up base in the soon-to-be vacant Gallowgate End unit.

Communications with staff, seen by the Gazette, reveal the real reasons given by Frasers Group for the closure – with Ashley’s company confirming the ‘anticipated’ takeover and the will of the buyers – the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben Brothers – as justification for putting jobs at risk.

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Staff were sent a letter, an excerpt of which reads: “As confirmed in the announcement due to the anticipated transfer of ownership of the club, it has been confirmed the new owners are not looking to TUPE any of the current employers over to the new owners of Newcastle Football Club.”

Fans make their way past the official store ahead of the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Everton at St James' Park on March 25, 2014 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

TUPE stands for the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations. It is legislation put in place to protect employees when a business changes hands, moving all liabilities and employment responsibilities from old owner to new.

The document, signed by area manager Ian Moody, reveals Frasers Group anticipate vacating the store on or before Sunday, April 25.

In the meantime, a consultation process has been entered with shop roles now “placed at risk of redundancy”. The document does, however, claim the group are “keen to avoid redundancies” and will look to find “alternative roles” for employees ‘at risk’ across the organisation.

The club store has not been closed for much of the past year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Today, however, it was open to customers, with staff present but tasked with loading stock into boxes.

Club sources, when approached, claimed the shop will close but only for refurbishment. Newcastle United declined to comment officially.

It’s not known whether the consortium have given their backing to the sending out of said communication.

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Frasers Group has been approached for comment.

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