Newcastle have confirmed they are engaged in an ongoing legal dispute with the Premier League over the failed recent takeover of the club.
Owner Mike Ashley indicated his intention to consult his lawyers after a consortium, which included Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, Amanda Staveley's PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben Brothers, withdrew its £350million offer for the Magpies following a 17-week wait for the governing body to approve the prospective buyers.
Newcastle Consortium Supporters Ltd claimed this week to have been told of the legal action by the Premier League's lawyers, and the club has now confirmed the move.
In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, it alleged the details had been "leaked" by the league and said:
“The Club has previously not commented on the arbitration it is pursuing against the Premier League (‘EPL’) with respect to its conduct relating to the proposed takeover because of the confidentiality clause in the EPL's rules."However, the Club is aware of public reports which state that, on 17 November, the EPL referred to legal proceedings with the Club (e.g. social media posts referring to the “Club’s own legal case”) in a letter to Newcastle supporters."The source of some of the reporting is said to be the EPL. It appears, therefore, that the EPL has leaked the contents of their letter to some of those commenting in the public domain."The Club understands that these will be matters of great concern to its fans and therefore considers that, in light of the information disclosed by the EPL, it has no choice but to respond and update its fans in response to this coverage."The Club makes no comment on the substance of the arbitration, but it can confirm that it has issued arbitration proceedings against the EPL."It is unclear when those proceedings will be resolved, given the approach of the EPL and its lawyers, Bird & Bird. Nevertheless, the Club will continue to use its best efforts to press for a fair, full and timely hearing of its claim.”
Ashley has been trying to sell Newcastle, which he bought for £134.4million in April 2007, for much of the intervening period, but has never come closer to doing so than this summer.
Staveley, who had failed in a previous attempt to strike a deal, appeared confident of a breakthrough this time around, although she and her partners grew increasingly frustrated as hopes of a swift conclusion dissolved with the Premier League's Owners' and Directors' test seemingly proving an insurmountable hurdle.
The consortium insisted it had provided all the answers for which it had been asked, although not to the satisfaction of the governing body, who were seeking clarity over the relationship between the ownership and the Saudi state amid a row over TV piracy, but never formally rejected the bid.
In addition, Amnesty International had voiced its objections over the Middle East state's human rights record, accusing it of using Newcastle for "sportswashing" purposes.