Newcastle United fan group hammers Premier League’s ‘ongoing dereliction of duty’ over takeover

The Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) has publicly criticised the English Premier League for their takeover conduct.

A general view inside the stadium as fans watch on during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and West Ham United at St. James Park on August 15, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

The Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) have issued a statement claiming the English Premier League have ‘let down’ supporters over the so-far stalled Newcastle United takeover.

NUST are the club’s largest fan group, with more than 15,000 members, and in a statement to their paid membership, they took aim at the top flight - and doubled down on their calls for a reform in the way football is governed.

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NUST statement in full

Yesterday a Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) hearing heard Daniel Jowell QC set out that media organisation BeIn Sports and “a number of major Premier League clubs joined in lobbying against the takeover deal”.

That led to an “unfair application of rules” and an “abuse of its position which distorted competition”. During the case, it was also revealed at arbitration in relation to the proposed takeover was set to take place on 3rd January 2022.

Adam Lewis QC, representing the Premier League said “If the arbitration decides that Kingdom of Saudi Arabia [KSA] would not be a director then the transaction can and will go ahead with no question of the owners’ and directors’ test applying to KSA.”

January 2022 now becomes critical to the future of Newcastle United. It was on this topic that NUST engaged legal counsel to write to the Premier League in support of the takeover, (after 96.7% of our members stated they were in favour) setting out detailed legal analysis why there appeared to be no impediment to the takeover being approved under the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ test. There is no doubt that Newcastle United and Newcastle United supporters have been let down by the Premier League.

In our view, the Premier League has proved it is not fit for purpose and not fit to govern itself. This ongoing dereliction of duty to the supporters of Newcastle United further emphasises the need for fundamental reform of football governance in the UK through primary legislation.

The background

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley agreed a deal to sell the football club to the PCP Consortium in March last year for around £300million.

The consortium comprises of PCP Capital Partners (10%), Reuben Brothers (10%) and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (80%).

That deal, however, was not authorised by the Premier League through their owners’ and directors’ test and, as a result, Ashley has opened up two separate legal challenges to the against the top flight in order to get the sale through, as well as claim back some compensation for the delays.

A behind-closed-doors arbitration to decide whether the Saudi state should be named as a director or not has been set for January 3, while a decision is awaited on whether a Competition Appeal Tribunal case should run, following a jurisdiction hearing on Wednesday.

That was brought by Ashley’s St James Holdings Limited against the Premier League and is attempting to highlight how ‘other clubs’ and beIN Sport influenced the decision-making in the deal ratification process, which is seen as anti-competitive behaviour.