Mike Ashley takes on Premier League over takeover rejection dispute

Mike Ashley, owner of Newcastle United, has instructed Blackstone Chambers, one of Europe's leading law firms, to take on the Premier League over the failed Newcastle United takeover.


In a statement released by the firm, Blackstone Chambers stated its intention to represent Mike Ashley and Newcastle United in their lengthy battle against the Premier League: Shaheed Fatima QC and Nick De Marco QC are acting for Newcastle United FC and Mike Ashley (instructed by Dentons) in a dispute with the Premier League about its rejection of a takeover bid made by PCP Capital Partners, the Reuben Brothers and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF) based on its Owners and Directors test."


Both barristers have years of experience behind them and countless high-profile victories.


Blackstone Chambers - through David Pannick QC - recently formed part of the team which saw Man City win its appeal against a Champions League ban for breaking the Financial Fair Play rules.


Fatima and De Marco themselves have quite the record between them too.


Shaheed Fatima has made her name mainly with cases related to international law - which would suit this case given the sticking point is over the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and whether or not he would be in charge of the Public Investment Fund.

Fatima's clients include the UN Refugee Agency; World Bank Group as well as experience working on behalf of the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office amongst others.


Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and Prince Abdul Aziz of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are listed as 'prominent individuals' she has acted on behalf.


Sovereign immunity is one of the items listed as her expertise - a full history can be found here.


Meanwhile, De Marco recently won cases on behalf of Derby County in their battle against the English Football League (EFL) over player registration and the sale of their Pride Park Stadium. Currently, he is acting on behalf of Sheffield Wednesday relating to its sale of the Hillsborough stadium, as well as the Professional Footballers' Association in relation to the League One and Two salary caps.


Other achievements include

  • Successfully acting on behalf of Stevenage FC after the club was accused of not acting in the right way toward the EFL over a postponed game

  • Successfully acting on behalf of Wayne Hennesey regarding 'charges brought against him for making an alleged Nazi salute at a dinner with other players. The charge was found not proven.'

  • Successfully acting on behalf of Celtic midfielder Scott Brown in a charge relating to a gesture made at the end of a game against Rangers.

  • Also advises a number of high profile England players including Harry Kane and Jordan Henderson over image rights while on international duty

He was described as 'one of only two barristers in England with a practice exclusively in sports related disputes,' and Chambers and Partners (2020) noted that De Marco is: "an outstanding practitioner with a widely held reputation at the Bar for being the foremost expert on football regulatory matters.


"He just knows football inside out... he is also a superb advocate who can be equally aggressive or charming as the situation requires" and "has formed a fantastic reputation for successfully challenging governing bodies."


A full history can be found here.


A statement last week from Newcastle United had noted that the club was 'considering all relevant options available to them' after accusing the Premier League and chief executive Richard Masters of 'not acting appropriately' regarding the takeover.


The Premier League hit back - and also denied the club's claim that the takeover had been rejected.

The aim of legal action is still to be determined - is it to push through the deal? Which some question how that can be done given the Premier League say it was never rejected - the PIF pulled out - or is it Ashley's way of winning compensation?

One thing is for sure, the takeover saga is set to rumble on for that bit longer.

Author: Jake Wilkin


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