Mike Ashley has called for “dark forces” to “step aside” after denying Newcastle fans a Saudi-backed takeover capable of turning the club into a “powerhouse”.
This comes on a night filled with some significant news from the Mike Ashley camp, with TWO major developments emerging in the last few hours.
Not only has the NUFC owner confirmed that HMRC have dropped their investigation into the club’s tax affairs after a four-year investigation, he has now launched ANOTHER legal case against the Premier League in a bid to push through the £300m bid led by Amanda Staveley and the PIF.
Not only are we pursuing an arbitration hearing against the Premier League, it has emerged tonight that Ashley has just filed an anti-competition lawsuit against Richard Masters and Co. relating to the collapsed takeover.
Here’s what Mike Ashley’s had to say after the HMRC investigation was dropped, with the last line featuring a clear swipe at top flight chiefs:
“After four years of the club being subjected to this investigation, I am pleased that the criminal investigation has now been discontinued.
“It is now time for the dark forces that are preventing this football club from becoming the powerhouse that the fans deserve, to step aside.”
Although it’s good to see this power play from Ashley and him doubling down in his attempts to push through this Saudi-backed takeover bid, the last line is ironic to say the least. After all, he’s been one of the biggest “dark forces” holding this club back over the past 14 years!
As for the club’s new anti-competition lawsuit, court document released today state the following:
“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.
“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.”
The court note continues: “According to the claim, the defendant’s conduct in purportedly applying the rules was a decision (or decisions) of an association of undertakings, an agreement between an association of undertakings and/or a concerted practice that had as its object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition on the relevant markets.
“The defendant also abused its dominant position on the relevant markets by preventing, alternatively impeding, the consortium company from proceeding with the proposed takeover, by refusing to deal with the consortium company and by imposing unfair trading conditions on the consortium company.
“The claimant alleges that the defendant prevented, or hindered, the proposed takeover and knew that its actions would prevent and/or delay the proposed takeover.
“The prevention and/or delay of the proposed takeover was liable to and did distort and/or restrict competition between PL clubs.”
What comes of the two legal cases is anyone’s guess, but it feels like we may finally get a decision one way or another this summer.