NUFC dispute with PL over PIF takeover rejection - Lawyers at the ready

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Re: NUFC Claim PIF Takeover Rejected by PL, PL Disagree

Post by Don Sholeone » Thu Sep 10, 2020 4:38 pm

This is getting weird, George Caulkin claiming takeover was ongoing and the club and consortium had expected the takeover to go through on Tuesday, this is what led to the statement on Wednesday.

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Re: NUFC Claim PIF Takeover Rejected by PL, PL Disagree

Post by TJR » Thu Sep 10, 2020 5:45 pm

Great article on this from George Caulkin, Chris Waugh & Matt Slater.
The Athletic wrote:Right up until Tuesday, they expected a yes — again. When Wednesday rolled around, it was a no — again.

After weeks of political pressure, painstaking negotiations and government involvement, Mike Ashley and the consortium attempting to buy Newcastle United from him were confident they had found a way. But this is the never-ending takeover and the way was blocked. Again.

Newcastle’s fiery public statement on Wednesday night felt like another front in Ashley’s push to sell up after 13 toxic years of ownership. They called out the Premier League and Richard Masters, its chief executive, for not acting “appropriately”, an extraordinary accusation for a stakeholder to level against its own organisation. There was even the hint of legal action, with the club “considering all relevant options available to them”.

Not for the first time, this was Ashley going rogue. The statement had nothing to do with the consortium fronted by Amanda Staveley, it was not their decision or part of a collective strategy. Rather than answering questions, it effectively led to more.

What was Ashley doing? What was his motivation? How could something which had already ended be finished again?

The bigger picture is that this was another defeat. Six weeks after Staveley’s group came to the reluctant decision “to withdraw our interest in acquiring” Newcastle, they had beavered away in private, believing they had done enough to satisfy the Premier League’s concerns about their prospective ownership model. The Premier League believed otherwise.

In their statement, Newcastle said the “Premier League has rejected 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”, but this brought a withering response.

“The club’s assertion that the Premier League has rejected the takeover is incorrect,” the Premier League said, adding it was “disappointed and surprised” by Newcastle’s comments. It repeated that the Test could still “proceed to the next stage” and that independent arbitration has remained an alternative “way forward since June”. Rather than a formal rejection, it had merely reiterated the same stance.

In effect, the overall situation is unchanged; Staveley’s £305 million attempt to buy the club, agreed and signed off by Ashley at the start of April, cannot go ahead. And so the most salient question is this; after all the controversy about television piracy and human rights, after another sharp disappointment, will there be the stomach for a third attempt, a third fight?

“This isn’t over,” one source on the buying side told The Athletic, but what that means is not clear. PIF’s attitude will be vital. They had led the original withdrawal and as majority partners in the consortium had the most clout. Privately, it was accepted that PIF would only officially come back to the table if acceptance by the Premier League was guaranteed. This is another snub. How will they react now?

For supporters who felt burnt and betrayed by 17 long weeks of hope and then creeping dismay, this is another befuddling development. Publicly at least, the takeover trail had gone cold and then, with the new season approaching, Newcastle had made some promising signings in the transfer market. Perhaps they could look forward to the football again.

In reality, Staveley and Ashley, through his trusted lieutenant Justin Barnes, had been ramping up talks. The consortium had been kept in the loop about deals for Callum Wilson, Ryan Fraser and Jamal Lewis and were content with all of them. They had held transfer discussions of their own, just as they had a few months ago. The feedback from Barnes and from their political contacts was positive.

With funds in place and ready to be paid, they hoped Newcastle might officially be theirs by the middle of next week.

Instead, it is this. Another no. Another statement, this time from Newcastle. Then another from the Premier League. Another kick in the bollocks. Again.

Staveley and her husband, Mehrdad Ghodoussi, spoke to The Athletic in the immediate aftermath of July’s disappointment. Both were upset and both were emotional; they have spent a lot of time and money on Newcastle over the last three years. At that stage, there was no firm plan to move forward. “I don’t know,” Staveley said. “I don’t want to give up.”

One thing that she said struck a chord. “It’s up to the fans now. Because if the fans want this back on then they’re going to have to go to the Premier League and say this isn’t fair.”

The outpouring was remarkable. A petition calling for an independent investigation into the Premier League’s takeover process was signed by more than 110,000 people. The Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) encouraged its membership to email politicians. More than 80 MPs responded publicly, including the prime minister. Eventually Masters agreed to speak to the NUST, answering detailed questions about the takeover. He spoke positively about the relationship with Newcastle, which now feels ironic.

There had been a message from Staveley to the NUST in which she thanked it for its “incredible backing and huge efforts”, but after that came silence. Some fans felt disillusionment. Had those efforts been in vain? Didn’t Staveley owe them a more detailed explanation? What had she actually wanted from them, and why? Was the takeover now dead and buried?

What they could not see was just how much their pressure had achieved. Everybody had noticed. The Saudis felt wanted. The government, which had made inroads into traditional Labour heartlands at the last general election were reminded of their obligations to the so-called “Red Wall”; a byproduct of Staveley’s bid was the promise of wider investment into Newcastle and the north east.

“The role that Newcastle fans have played in this can’t be overstated,” a source says. “They were absolutely incredible. They reminded everybody why they were doing it and what the club can and should be. They got this moving again.”

A new campaign began. The public nature of the consortium’s bid had been wearing for everybody; leaks, counter leaks, contradictions and divisive commentary. This time it went quiet. A well-connected Whitehall figure conducted shuttle diplomacy between the Saudis, the government and the Premier League. Perhaps there could be a deal on piracy which placated everybody, including the Premier League’s broadcast partners. Perhaps there was still a way of getting it done.

The club and the consortium consulted their lawyers. They again asked PIF for assurances that the Saudi state would not have a role in the running of Newcastle. As the club said in their statement, they had provided the Premier League “with overwhelming evidence and legal opinions that PIF is independent of the Saudi Arabian government”.

Not overwhelming enough for the Premier League, however, which in its latest statement, said it had, “on a number of occasions, given its opinion about which entities it believes would have control over the club should the consortium proceed with the acquisition. That opinion is based on legal advice. This means the potential takeover could proceed to the next stage should the relevant entities provide all appropriate information”.

The other interesting thing about Newcastle’s statement is how much it doubled down on Ashley’s mindset throughout the process. Always perceived as a reluctant or difficult seller, he reassured supporters that he “has been fully committed to ensuring this takeover process reached completion, as he felt it was in the best interests of the club”.

During a difficult economic backdrop, the retail tycoon’s frustration is understandable given that he has lost out on a cash purchase of £305 million. And there is more to that, too.

The Athletic understands that Ashley had been keen to use his new contacts to pursue wider business opportunities with the Saudis. He is said to be furious that he may now have lost out twice over.

Although Newcastle have, theoretically, been up for sale for almost the duration of Ashley’s tenure, the club were officially placed back on the market in October 2017, where they have remained ever since.

Throughout that time, Staveley has held a keen interest. The businesswomen first attempted to buy the club, without Saudi backing, in November 2017, submitting three separate bids, none of which were accepted. Two months later, Ashley called off talks, with a source close to the billionaire dismissing discussions with Staveley as “exhausting, frustrating and a complete waste of time”.

Yet PCP’s desire to purchase Newcastle did not diminish and, in January 2018, Staveley told The Times that she remained “interested” in acquiring the club and “hoped” to do so at some point.

Staveley revealed to The Athletic in July that PCP previously sought Chinese financial backing to buy Newcastle but ultimately decided it required a “strong partner” so it could invest in both the club and the region. The latest bid, which started in earnest in the spring of 2019 — with an initial hope that it could be concluded before Rafa Benitez, the previous Newcastle manager, left last June — and became formalised that October, contained a 10 per cent share for the Reuben Brothers and a majority, 80 per cent stake, for PIF.

It was Staveley who approached PIF and persuaded the sovereign wealth fund to pursue Newcastle, resulting in the framework for a provisional £340 million deal to be agreed with Ashley in January. However, the post-coronavirus price, reached in April, was £305 million, which included a non-returnable £17 million deposit, a significant portion of which has subsequently been lost.

Initially, the secrecy surrounding talks served the consortium well, yet those close to the bid accept that a leak to the Wall Street Journal in January — which nobody has taken ownership of — attracted months of public scrutiny which harmed the chances of it succeeding. Once publicly-available Companies House documents effectively confirmed the prospective takeover in April, the probing only intensified.

Over the summer, Saudi human rights issues, including the war in Yemen and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the journalist killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, were cited repeatedly by Khashoggi’s fiancee, Amnesty International and politicians.

Beyond the moral arguments, more of an issue for the Premier League’s Test itself was the concern over pirate broadcaster beoutQ and its alleged links to the Saudi network Arabsat. The World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a ruling on June 16 which determined that the Saudi state had failed to take appropriate action to curb beoutQ’s activities, supporting beIN Sports’ consistent opposition to the deal.

As the Premier League’s official broadcast rights-holder in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Qatari-based beIN insists it has lost hundreds of millions in revenue due to piracy in the region. Given beIN’s current agreement costs £500 million over a three-year period and runs until 2022, it is a major international partner and has even been supported by the Premier League itself during (repeated failed) attempts to facilitate an end to piracy via the Saudi courts.

Interestingly, while piracy was a serious issue, Masters revealed last month in a letter to Chi Onwurah, the MP for Newcastle Central, that the Test did not reach the stage of assessing potential intellectual property infringements because of the prospective buyers’ withdrawal. Instead, the reason for the four-month impasse was over governance and essentially who would ultimately control Newcastle United.

Staveley claimed to The Athletic that “the Premier League wanted the country, Saudi, to become a director of the football club”. Masters, however, presented this in another way; he insisted that the state would have been a de facto director regardless. That is why the governing body wanted state representation on the Newcastle board, something the consortium disagreed with. The prospective buyers refused, with sources citing reassurances “from the highest possible levels that there would be no state interference in the running of the club”, something that the Premier League refused to accept. Independent arbitration on this point alone was offered but rejected and that is why the group pulled back in July. But the Premier League insist that avenue remains.

Seemingly, Newcastle themselves did not officially withdraw the bid on July 30. The Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test is conducted between the member club and the governing body, with the prospective buyer submitting documents through Newcastle. It is up to Newcastle to initiate the start of the Test and also to end it if necessary.

The club’s statement was worded very deliberately (even if it was ambiguous) and it was incendiary, directly referencing Masters, which has prompted anger inside the Premier League, which viewed the comments as unnecessarily personal. The Premier League insisted that, “it is also incorrect to suggest these decisions were taken by any individual, they were agreed unanimously by all Premier League board members.”

From the other side, the inference that further action is being “considered” means an interminable saga is set to continue in some shape or form, though whether that will be via legal means, arbitration, a demand for compensation from Ashley, or something else entirely, has not yet been determined.

In June, as the owner all-but “checked out” according to insiders, a first-team source declared: “There’s no way back for Mike Ashley after this. There can’t be… can there?”

Yet by Wednesday, the billionaire was flying up to the club’s Benton training ground in his private helicopter to meet the new signings, Bruce and Lee Charnley, the club’s managing director, before joining the squad for an evening meal. It was reminiscent of the giddy scenes 14 months previously, when Ashley rushed up to welcome the club’s £40 million record buy, Joelinton, in one of his arbitrary bouts of “getting caught up in owning a football club”, as he puts it.

Regardless of the prospective takeover continuing in the background, the ever-unpredictable owner has released funds (from the club’s own reserves) to support his head coach and, certainly when it comes to off-field matters, this remains the best week of Bruce’s tenure to date. His first XI looks stronger than it did when last season ended and he has been able to sign the players he wanted. The players, the staff nor indeed the club’s business have been unduly affected by behind-the-scenes developments.

Nevertheless, there is always underlying uncertainty at Ashley’s Newcastle, which has a habit of resurfacing at the most inopportune moments.

Silence was needed following July’s withdrawal if this takeover was ever going to succeed and the hush should, in theory, have been encouraging. This exhausting, contentious process would only ever succeed if it was concluded privately and attempts were made to do just that.

But, when the noise returned, it offered further pandemonium, only it was of the negative kind once more.

This takeover was alive. Then it was dead. Then it was alive again. Now it is dead again. Or is it? Nobody can say definitively.

Newcastle United is no longer just a sporting institution, it is a question mark. Again.
https://theathletic.com/2057176

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Re: NUFC Claim PIF Takeover Rejected by PL, PL Disagree

Post by Sir Bobby » Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:57 pm

I’m getting very suspicious that the MoneyMikeAshley twitter parody account is, in fact, Mike Ashley.

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Re: NUFC Claim PIF Takeover Rejected by PL, PL Disagree

Post by biggeordiedave » Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:59 am

<horse>
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Re: NUFC Claim PIF Takeover Rejected by PL, PL Disagree

Post by Colback's Orange Tufts » Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:03 am

biggeordiedave wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:59 am
<horse>
I feel this way. The PL isn't a democracy, its a trade body. Its members can decide its decisions and they don't want to admit a body that has been stealing from them. Let it go
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Re: NUFC Claim PIF Takeover Rejected by PL, PL Disagree

Post by Bodacious Benny » Fri Sep 11, 2020 8:54 am

Yep, agreed.
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Re: PIF Takeover Officially Rejected by PL

Post by Remember Colo » Fri Sep 11, 2020 11:15 pm

Don Sholeone wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 9:38 am
Do people really think we are that important to KSA, that the government is going to be sat there saying hell forget all the other s*** we have to do like running a country! Tell us what right back Brucie would like us to buy!

The Bin Salman obsession was stupid, but id guess only a very small minority thought he'd be sat in he stands every week with his toon kit on screaming for the ref to f*** off.
I sure as hell would hope not, but I think there are plenty of fans who (likely) wrongly imagined the royal family present like Sheihk Mansour at City, or Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at big PSG matches.

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Re: NUFC Claim PIF Takeover Rejected by PL, PL Disagree

Post by UlversToon » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:44 am

https://www.blackstonechambers.com/news ... er-league/
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.
Gloves off

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Re: NUFC Claim PIF Takeover Rejected by PL, PL Disagree

Post by Bodacious Benny » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:49 am

This could derail our CL push as we sit in third place in the league <mob>
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Re: NUFC Claim PIF Takeover Rejected by PL, PL Disagree

Post by UlversToon » Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:40 am

Bodacious Benny wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:49 am
This could derail our CL push as we sit in third place in the league <mob>
<laugh>

I have a feeling that may be derailed by Brighton next weekend! <whistle>

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Re: NUFC dispute with PL over PIF takeover rejection - Lawyers at the ready

Post by Cal » Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:48 pm

A bit of background from nufc.com
While De Marco is currently working with Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and the PFA in actions against the Football League, Fatima's former clients include a member of the Saudi royal family.

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Re: NUFC dispute with PL over PIF takeover rejection - Lawyers at the ready

Post by Ramone » Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:24 am

Sounds like he's brought in the big guns but I'm not sure what this does for us.
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Re: NUFC dispute with PL over PIF takeover rejection - Lawyers at the ready

Post by biggeordiedave » Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:32 am

Ramone wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:24 am
Sounds like he's brought in the big guns but I'm not sure what this does for us.
We'll probably get kicked out of the league or something.
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Re: NUFC dispute with PL over PIF takeover rejection - Lawyers at the ready

Post by ScholarlySloth » Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:41 am

biggeordiedave wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:32 am
Ramone wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:24 am
Sounds like he's brought in the big guns but I'm not sure what this does for us.
We'll probably get kicked out of the league or something.
<laugh> <laugh>
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Re: NUFC dispute with PL over PIF takeover rejection - Lawyers at the ready

Post by Don Sholeone » Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:02 am

Ramone wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:24 am
Sounds like he's brought in the big guns but I'm not sure what this does for us.
People love a scandal, at the very least it will draw a spotlight onto the premier league from outside of the football circle. I think the aim is to level maximum scrutiny at how the league operates. Also, if its true that they keep moving the goalposts this pressure will probably make them reluctant to do it again. I fully believe talks are ongoing as Caulkins article makes a lot of sense when taking the club statement into account, the timing was bizzare if you were to look at it from the "PIF pulled out a month ago" angle. So surely something is still going on behind the scenes. I wouldnt be surprised if this finally went through within the next month.

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Re: NUFC Claim PIF Takeover Rejected by PL, PL Disagree

Post by Captain Obvious » Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:17 am

biggeordiedave wrote:
Fri Sep 11, 2020 7:59 am
<horse>
We're gonna spank their ass. Love that attitude <applause>

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Re: NUFC dispute with PL over PIF takeover rejection - Lawyers at the ready

Post by krully » Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:25 pm

We should switch to the SPL

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Re: NUFC dispute with PL over PIF takeover rejection - Lawyers at the ready

Post by Bodacious Benny » Tue Sep 15, 2020 4:07 pm

krully wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:25 pm
We should switch to the SPL
Or we could go for something a little more challenging and join the National League <whistle>
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Re: NUFC dispute with PL over PIF takeover rejection - Lawyers at the ready

Post by biggeordiedave » Wed Sep 16, 2020 9:48 am

The HMRC story has been popping its head up again.
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