Newcastle takeover takes fresh twist as Mike Ashley makes intervention

Mike Ashley has engaged top sports QC Nick De Marco in a bid to force through the Saudi-backed takeover.

The Toon chief is desperate to bank £305m by selling the club to the Saudi Public Investment Fund, and has signalled he is ready for a legal fight.

The Premier League and Newcastle United are at loggerheads over the failed takeover which the PIF withdrew from in July, citing delays and post-COVID economic problems.

Newcastle issued a statement last week accusing chief exec Richard Masters of acting inappropriately, and claiming the league had rejected the deal “in its owners and directors test.”

But the Premier League hit back insisting the “test” stage, overseen but the board not Masters personally, had yet to be reached.

They want the buyers to recognise that the Saudi government, who control the PIF, will be the ultimate owners of the Toon.

Blackstone Chambers today revealed that “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 (PIF) based on its Owners and Directors test.”

It remains to be seen how successful they will be. The consortium are said to have refused an arbitration process offered by the league. And it is difficult to see how Ashley's lawyers can appeal a test that has not given a verdict.

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Amanda Staveley, who would take a 10pc stake along with the Reuben brothers, are trying to keep the deal alive and believe the Saudis will come back to the deal if they knew it would be approved by the Premier League.

They have been lobbying their Tory party contacts, including trade ministers, to get the Government to intervene. But Sports Minister Oliver Dowden has repeatedly said it is a Premier League decision and he can't step in.

On Friday boss Steve Bruce said the takeover was 'dead in the water."

Ashley has seeing his reputation boosted among Newcastle fans as he takes on the Premier League.

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