What the latest Newcastle United takeover post means for fan legal challenge
Newcastle United takeover talk continues to dominate the landscape on Tyneside as we head into our 14th winter with Mike Ashley as misplaced custodian of our hopes and dreams at St James’s Park.
Many fans are sceptical – that’s understandable, we’ve all been here before. But one thing is for certain the deal remains live, with a willing buyer – including the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia – and a willing seller in Ashley.
The other willing participants in all of this, at present, are the fans, who despite a want for change, fear allowing themselves to be let down again. And attempting to represent them, in a legal sense at least, is Newcastle Consortium Supporters Ltd. Take ‘Newcastle’ and ‘Ltd’ off their company title and you can see where their priorities lie.
On Saturday @NCSL1892 tweeted at update to highlight to fans where their legal challenge stands. It read: “Richard Masters agreed: Football is nothing without fans! Let’s see how cooperative he is in allowing fans to understand the “confidential” reasons why #NUFCTakeover didn’t happen. Who raised the red flags? Geordies United–Fans/Seller/Buyer. Tuesday’s clock ticks.”
The tweet got fans talking – and is expected to be followed by more. But what did it all mean? Our writer Liam Kennedy explains what he takes the tweet to mean – and how close the deal negotiations are to progress.
Liam Kennedy’s NCSL statement views
I’ve said it time and time again, things are moving. Nothing is done overnight, these things can sometimes take time. All parties are confident things are moving in the right direction and the correct pressure is being applied in the right areas to get the decision they desire.
NCSL are the fans – Keith Patterson and Gordon Stein are black and white through and through – and they are doing this for the fans. There is no way they would be doing this if they did not believe 1) the fans wanted it. 2) there is a willing seller. And 3) there is a willing buyer – and that includes all three parts to it, PIF, PCP Capital Partners and Reuben Brothers. It is my understanding that all three are still very much in the market for Newcastle United – and their resolve has not dampened (it has seemingly wavered at times) despite the repeated hurdles put in their way. There is a belief a deal can be done with the Premier League – whether it can be is another question all together.
And that’s where the legal action comes into play. NCSL have the support of everyone involved in the Newcastle United takeover process – this is not being done on a whim. This is being done by the fans for the fans, and the billionaires who also desperately want their needs satisfied.
As for the latest tweet, the key word in all of this is confidential. NCSL, as I understand it, want the Newcastle United takeover to get a fair hearing – something they believe did not happen the first time around, or even the second. And they see the best way for that to happen is for disclosure of documents, which they believe will highlight anti-competitive behaviour, done behind closed doors, which the recent Project Big Picture leaks revealed.
The Tuesday reference is another interesting thing to take from the tweet.
Tomorrow marks two weeks since the Premier League asked for an extra 14 days to respond to the Letter Before Action, sent by NCSL. I’m told the Premier League are likely to respond – it’s unlikely they will be in any mood to comply with NCSL’s requests.
NCSL made it clear they did not agree with the Premier League’s request for an extra 14 days, but the league’s legal team were not obligated to respond with any timeframe, despite the fans’ desires.
Court action is where this is heading, it seems. Ducks are being aligned by the NCSL legal team, headed up by prominent anti-competition law QC Robert O’Donaghue, a long-time friend of one of the claimants, Keith Patterson.
NCSL said they would begin court action, if the Premier League did not respond or comply with their requests. And that remains their intention, I am told. The wheels are thought to have already been turning for some time on their next move.