Newcastle United owner and British billionaire Mike Ashley is still hoping to push through Saudi Arabia’s proposed Public Investment Fund (PIF) takeover bid, with the Tyneside club locked in a legal battle with the Premier League.
On Friday, the High Court denied Newcastle United in its bid to remove the Chairman of the arbitration panel looking into its legal conflict with the Premier League. The club argued that Michael Beloff QC should be taken off the panel on the ‘grounds of apparent bias’.
In December, Newcastle confirmed it would take legal action against the Premier League over its failed takeover, claiming that the league ‘leaked the contents’ of a confidential letter to a supporters group. The Magpies subsequently accused the league of acting ‘inappropriately’ regarding the situation.
The prospective owners, a consortium which consisted of the country’s PIF, Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben Brothers, pulled out of the bid after waiting 16 weeks for the Premier League to review the Owners and Directors Test (OADT).
The club declared that it is ‘disappointed’ with the latest decision and is still ‘considering whether or not to pursue an appeal’.
“As noted at the end of the judgment, the club submitted that the judge did not address all of the club’s arguments,” Newcastle United said in a statement.
“The club is committed to the speedy and fair determination of its claim so that the proposed takeover can go ahead as soon as possible. However, it felt it had to make this application given the need for the dispute to be determined by way of a fair process.”
In addition, beIN Media Group, which remains the dominant sports broadcaster in the Middle East and North Africa after retaining the rights to the top flight in the Mena region in December 2020, played a pivotal role in putting an end to the proposed takeover.
The Qatari broadcaster called for the Premier League to rebuff the takeover due to Saudi Arabia’s alleged links to piracy television network beoutQ.
Newcastle argued that Beloff could present a conflict of interest as he previously advised the Premier League on a change of rules in 2017 to ‘prevent a foreign owner involved in alleged broadcasting piracy from passing the test’.
Nonetheless, Ashley reaffirmed his commitment to the takeover in an interview with Sky Sports, saying he would fight ‘tooth and nail’ to get the deal over the line.