Newcastle United have today confirmed that they are engaged in a legal battle against the Premier League over their proposed Saudi Arabian-backed takeover, which fell through in the summer.
The £305 million deal to sell The Magpies to a consortium consisting of the Public Investment Fund, PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben Brothers was called off after they all became increasingly frustrated with the amount of time the Premier League had taken to make a decision on whether the party had passed or failed the league's 'Owners & Directors' Test'.
Approval or rejection of the deal did not arrive before the consortium withdrew from the buying process, despite the deal being on the league's chief executive Richard Masters' table for 17 weeks prior.
Newcastle United responded this afternoon to claims made by the Premier League to the Newcastle Consortium Supporters Limited (NCSL), which implied that Newcastle United were pursuing legal action against the league.
The club did not publicly comment on the matter originally, as they say they were abiding to the Premier League's own rules surrounding confidentiality.
In the statement, the club confirmed to supporters that 'arbitration proceedings' have commenced against the Premier League, but have confirmed they will not disclose any information regarding the nature of the arbitration.
With this latest move, current owner Mike Ashley has continued to put public pressure on the Premier League, something he has done multiple times since his deal to sell the club dramatically collapsed in July.
The official statement
Newcastle United said: “The Club has previously not commented on the arbitration it is pursuing against the Premier League (‘EPL’) with respect to its conduct relating to the proposed takeover because of the confidentiality clause in the EPL's rules.
"However, the Club is aware of public reports which state that, on 17 November, the EPL referred to legal proceedings with the Club (e.g. social media posts referring to the “Club’s own legal case”) in a letter to Newcastle supporters.
"The source of some of the reporting is said to be the EPL. It appears, therefore, that the EPL has leaked the contents of their letter to some of those commenting in the public domain.
"The Club understands that these will be matters of great concern to its fans and therefore considers that, in light of the information disclosed by the EPL, it has no choice but to respond and update its fans in response to this coverage.
"The Club makes no comment on the substance of the arbitration, but it can confirm that it has issued arbitration proceedings against the EPL.
"It is unclear when those proceedings will be resolved, given the approach of the EPL and its lawyers, Bird & Bird. Nevertheless, the Club will continue to use its best efforts to press for a fair, full and timely hearing of its claim.”
Who is the legal team representing Newcastle United?
Legal firm Blackstone Chambers released a statement back in September, which was quickly deleted, announcing that they would be representing Mike Ashley and the club in a case against the Premier League.
The two barristers that were selected to act on behalf of Newcastle United are Shaheed Fatima QC, an expert in human rights law, public law and public international law, and Nick De Marco QC, an expert in sports law.
“Shaheed Fatima QC and Nick De Marco QC are acting for Newcastle United FC and Mike Ashley (instructed by Dentons) in a dispute with the Premier League about its rejection of a takeover bid made by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia based on its Owners and Directors test.”