Newcastle United takeover: Mike Ashley’s January arbitration fears

Mike Ashley’s legal team have their Newcastle United takeover doubts - and here’s why.

Mike Ashley’s Newcastle United takeover legal team have doubts about the Premier League’s January arbitration promise.

At last week’s Competition Appeal Tribunal, Premier League QC Adam Lewis revealed to everyone present and watching live - which was recorded as more than 33,000 in total - that a new year date had been set for the arbitration hearing which would ultimately decide the fate of the stalled PCP Consortium deal.

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The takeover by the consortium, made up of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, Reuben Brothers and PCP Capital Partners, stalled in May 2020 when the Premier League altered their behaviours in relation to the deal, which they’d previously said they would pass and, to quote verbatim, had brought up “no red flags”.

However, while the revealing of the arbitration date seemed to bring some finality to the process, it is being viewed as anything but by Ashley’s crack legal outfit, headed up by ever-present Nick De Marco.

Instead, the Premier League pledge has been viewed with scepticism, especially if no near court date can be found for the CAT case, of which a jurisdiction decision is expected imminently.

Should CAT not be sledged in for early 2022, as per St James Holdings Limited QC Daniel Jowell’s request, or even at all, were it thrown out, then the fear is Premier League legals, guided by renowned delay specialists Bird & Bird, will again somehow attempt to push the arbitration back on yet another technicality.

The July date was delayed over reported disclosure complications, albeit with fingers pointed at both parties in the case.

What happens next?

Like Newcastle United fans, the club and the buyers-in-waiting must remain patient as a decision is awaited on the CAT case.

Will it run or won’t it? That’s the question on everyone’s lips at present.

Confidence was high pre-jurisdiction hearing on the Ashley side, and it remains to be seen whether last week’s initial skirmishes in the courtroom, if virtual, have dampened or solidified that feeling.

And, of course, beyond that, there remains the small matter of the arbitration case, which has been named for January 3, 2022.