Ashley’s Premier League case to be ‘considered with care’

Mike Ashley’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) case against the Premier League has drawn to a close, with the panel saying they will “consider with care” before coming to a judgement at a later date.

Ashley – through his holding company St James’ Holdings’ Ltd (SJHL) and not Newcastle United – is claiming for damages through CAT following what he claims was a wrongful rejection of the Saudi-backed takeover by the Premier League last summer.

During today’s hearing QC Daniel Jowell, representing SJHL, claimed losses have been “substantial and exceed £10m – Mr Jowell calculated this as the difference between the Saudi-Public Investment Fund (PIF) offer last summer and the current market value of Newcastle United.

He also claimed there was no evidence that the exact same deal remained on the table from the Saudi-backed consortium, who agreed to buy the club from Ashley for £300m 18 months ago.

He criticised the Premier League, saying they got their ‘decision’ wrong, but added that “if they came to their senses and reversed their decision tomorrow, we hope and prepare to go forward on similar terms.”

In his evidence, Mr Jowell also referenced an earlier “threat” from the Premier League to ban Newcastle from playing top-flight football during the takeover saga, and claimed the PL were influenced by both BeIn Sports and other PL clubs.

Earlier in the day, the Premier League appealed for the case to be thrown out, claiming it “goes over the same ground” as the overarching independent arbitration case, which we learned today has been scheduled for the first week in January 2022.

Represented by Adam Lewis QC, the Premier League said it was an “abuse of process” to start both claims simultaneously.

The Premier League also questioned why the complainant (Ashley) was represented at the hearing by both Newcastle United (in the shape of Nick De Marco QC) and St James Holdings Ltd.

The panel of three have retired to consider their verdict, with SJHL asking for the case to advance with an administrative hearing in the new year.

Ashley claims the takeover was rejected by the Premier League last summer, while the league has said all along they cannot pass the takeover through theIR Owners & Directors Test until they are given further information regarding PIF and whether there is a clear distinction between the consortium and the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia).