Mike Ashley sues Amanda Staveley demanding the return of £10million Newcastle United takeover loan claiming she ‘broke conditions’ of deal which stated she would not criticise his 14-year tenure of the club
- Mike Ashley claims that Amanda Staveley broke a clause against criticising him
- He says that the violation means she must return £10m he gave her as a loan
- Ashley sold Newcastle to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in November
Mike Ashley is suing the new co-owners of Newcastle United for breaking the conditions of a £10 million loan he gave them to enable its sale which stated that they would not publicly criticise his 14-year tenure of the club, MailOnline can reveal.
Sports Direct owner Mr Ashley claims that wealthy businesswoman Amanda Staveley has defaulted on the loan after violating an agreement not to criticise his running of the club in the media and refusing to allow some advertising from his company to remain at its home ground until the end of the current football season.
Documents have been submitted at London’s High Court by Mr Ashley’s legal team, demanding the immediate return of the £10 million, plus interest, which he maintains was given to Ms Staveley to cover ‘advisory, legal and other costs and commissions,’ in return for sticking to the strict conditions.
Her long-time partner, Mehrdad Ghodoussi, a wealthy Iranian businessman is being sued as part of the proceedings in his role as guarantor that she would pay it back.
Following protracted negotiations, Newcastle’s sale was finally confirmed last November after it was taken over in a controversial £305 million deal by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is owned by the country’s government.
Negotiations for the sale were led by wealthy businesswoman Ms Staveley, 48 who also has a 10% share in the club.
Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley (left) claims that wealthy businesswoman Amanda Staveley (right) has defaulted on the loan after violating an agreement not to criticise his running of the club in the media
Club director Amanda Staveley and partner Mehrdad Ghodoussi (left) with newly appointed Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe
She is rumoured to be worth an estimated £100 million and is chief executive of PCP Capital Partners. Ms Staveley has publicly declared that she has invested her ‘family’s money’ into Newcastle United.
But in another dramatic twist, the High Court document submitted by Mr Ashley’s legal team questions this.
They maintain that Ms Staveley only managed to secure her 10% share of Newcastle United after being given a £30 million loan by billionaire property developers the Reuben brothers, who also form part of the takeover consortium and own another 10% of the club.
Under the loan agreement, completed last October, which forms the centre of the legal dispute between Ms Staveley and Mr Ashley, she had two years to pay back his £10 million. In court documents, his lawyers claim that she was well aware that if she broke any of the conditions, she would immediately have to return the money.
They state that this was specifically written into the loan agreement she had with him and that it would be considered a ‘default’ if Ms Staveley ‘admonishes’ his reign at Newcastle United publicly.
The document maintains: ‘Mr. Ashley wanted protection against public criticisms of his tenure as ultimate beneficial owner of NUFCL (Newcastle United Football Club Limited) by new owners and / or managers of NUFCL because such criticisms carry particular weight.’
The document claims that despite this, Ms Staveley publicly criticised Mr Ashley’s running of Newcastle United in the national media after the takeover, which ‘diminished’ his reputation as it portrayed it in a ‘negative light.’
It lists a series of media interviews where these comments were made insisting that they were ‘derogatory’ and brought Mr Ashley’s time at the club into ‘disrepute.’
His lawyers maintain that Sports Direct also suffered a ‘marketing loss’ after signage was removed from Newcastle’s home ground, St James’ Park.
Staveley is rumoured to be worth an estimated £100 million and is chief executive of PCP Capital Partners
Ms Staveley is accused of speaking publicly about her desire to get this done as quickly as possible after the sale in a series of articles that appeared in the national media, despite agreeing with Mr Ashley that some of it would remain in place.
The document adds: ‘Accordingly, the First Defendant’s (Ms Staveley) statements, as quoted in the above articles, individually and collectively, seek to impart, assume as correct, and / or endorse a negative judgment of Mr. Ashley as ultimate beneficial owner of NUFCL.
‘In addition, or in the alternative, these statements were either intended to diminish Mr. Ashley’s reputation in relation to his ownership and / or management of NUFCL, or might reasonably have been expected to do so.’
Lawyers for Mr Ashley initially asked Ms Staveley’s legal team for a return of the £10 million loan on 17 November 2021 but it was not paid, resulting in the current legal action.
A spokesman for Ms Staveley and Mr Ghodoussi said: ‘A company owned by Mike Ashley has issued proceedings against Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi. The claim is connected to the acquisition of NUFC.
Ms Staveley and Mr Ghodoussi do not intend to comment on the details of the litigation, however they are very confident of successfully defending the claim in full.
The litigation will not distract Ms Staveley or Mr Ghodoussi from their hard work at Newcastle United, particularly as they focus on the opportunities and deadlines presented by the January transfer window.’
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