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Newcastle call for Premier League to end secretive nature of takeover arbitration

Newcastle are unhappy at the lack of updates on their appeal to an arbitration panel over the rejected takeover by a Saudi-led consortium and believe the lawfulness of the Premier League's decision-making process is "an issue"


Newcastle have called on the Premier League to end the secretive nature of their takeover appeal, insisting they have "nothing to hide".

The club's potential sale to a consortium controlled by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) is currently in the hands of an arbitration panel after the Premier League rejected the £340m bid last year.

Newcastle are unhappy at the lack of updates on the process and claim the Premier League is attempting to keep a separate appeal to the competition courts secret too, while calling into question the lawfulness of its decision-making process.

Newcastle have also cited the recent attempts of six Premier League clubs to create a European Super League as evidence for such significant decisions about the futures of clubs to be done transparently, in full public view.

Newcastle United's owner Mike Ashley
Image: Newcastle United's owner Mike Ashley is deeply frustrated at the Premier League's decision to reject a potential takeover by a Saudi Arabian-led consortium.

"The club continues to receive requests for updates on its current arbitration claim against the Premier League ('EPL') considering the lawfulness of the EPL's decisions regarding the proposed takeover of the club involving the PIF," the club said on Thursday.

"Unfortunately, the club is unable to make any comment about the arbitration. The EPL rules provide the entire arbitration process is confidential. However, both parties can agree for it to be in public. The club believes it should be.

"The issues at stake, including the lawfulness of the EPL's decision-making process and the widely publicised alleged influence of the EPL's commercial partners on the EPL's decisions are of far wider interest to other football clubs, fans and the public in general.

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"The recent attempted breakaway by some EPL clubs, and the reaction of the government and public to it, has again highlighted the need for transparency and fairness in football governance. Gone are the days when important decisions that affect clubs and their fans should be made secretly, behind closed doors and away from the public eye.

"The club has nothing to hide with respect to the arbitration and invites the EPL to agree that it should no longer be held behind closed doors. If the EPL has acted lawfully and properly it should have no reason to be afraid of the public spotlight.

Amanda Staveley
Image: Amanda Staveley has again fronted the consortium to buy Newcastle including her PCP Capital Partners firm

"To date, the EPL has strongly resisted any public scrutiny of its decision-making process. It tried, and failed, to prevent the High Court's judgment about elements of the arbitration being published last February. It is currently attempting to prevent the competition courts considering a claim by the club's sellers from taking place in public, arguing that too should be held in confidential arbitration.

"So the club has invited the EPL to agree that as the claim raises such important issues of sports governance, transparency and openness that it should be held in public. The club is prepared for every stage of the process to be in public: the public should be able to see the parties' evidence and arguments as well as the full decision of the Tribunal when it is made.

"The government quite rightly threatened to intervene in reaction to the proposed breakaway from the EPL earlier this year, and the reaction of football fans and the wider public was instrumental in stopping the emergence of the ESL. If the EPL continues to insist that the club's claim must be determined behind closed doors the club asks that MPs, the government, the media and the general public call on the EPL to finally accept public scrutiny of its decision-making process."

The Premier League declined to comment when contacted by Sky Sports News.

The consortium attempting to buy the Tyneside club was made of PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) and fronted by Amanda Staveley, in what was her second attempt.

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, who has been looking to sell the northeast club for over two years, was understood to be extremely frustrated at the Premier League's rejection in September 2020, and immediately sought legal options to keep hope of selling to the group alive.

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