Mike Ashley is suing £ 10 million against Amanda Staveley over a deal with Newcastle United

Mike Ashley is seeking at least £ 10 million in a lawsuit against Amanda Stavley, the financier who acted as a middleman when the British retail billionaire sold Newcastle United to an investor consortium led by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund.

Ashley is claiming the sum plus interest on a £ 10m “supplier loan” he gave Staveley to cover “advisory, legal and other costs and commissions” as they pursued a deal that was postponed months before its completion last year. October.

Documents filed with the Supreme Court in London show that Ashley accuses Staveley of violating the terms of the loan, which contains a clause prohibiting defendants from publicly criticizing him. However, the allegation accuses Staveley of giving media briefings and interviews that violate the agreement.

Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund was the leading investor in the £ 305m acquisition of the Premier League club. The consortium, which also includes Staveley and the billionaire brothers Ruben, has closed the deal despite football concerns over human rights issues in Saudi Arabia and alleged support from beoutQ, an Arab pirate television network accused of illegally broadcasting Premier League matches. .

The Premier League, which manages the highest level of English football, initially disagreed with the takeover, with approval coming after Saudi Arabia ended a piracy dispute with Qatari-based television company beIN Sports, which paid billions of pounds to acquire television rights.

Staveley’s husband, Mehrdad Godusi, is the other defendant named in the lawsuit as a guarantor.

The original repayment plan for the loan was 24 months until October 2023, but documents show that default will occur if Staveley or Godusy “warn” Ashley or “reduce” his reputation publicly. On November 17, Ashley called for immediate repayment of the loan, but documents said Staveley’s lawyers denied there had been a so-called default.

Ashley’s claim also claims that Staveley did not notify Ashley of plans to remove ads for his Sports Direct and Flannels brands from St. James’s Park, Newcastle Stadium, and that he would try to include this loss of marketing in the selling price. of the club.

According to the documentation, Staveley told Ashley by phone “shortly before” the conclusion of the deal on October 7 that Newcastle would “make every effort to maintain the SRL of [Sportsdirect.com Retail Limited] sponsorship rights until the end of the 2021/22 season ”, but instead gave 14 days notice of termination on 15 November.

In response, a spokesman for Stavley and Godussy confirmed the proceedings and said he did not intend to comment on the details of the lawsuit. However, they are very confident that they will fully defend the claim.

“The lawsuit will not distract Ms. Stavley or Mr. Godussy from their hard work at Newcastle United, especially as they focus on the opportunities and deadlines presented by the January transfer window,” the statement added.

Rival clubs have previously tried to prevent Newcastle United from signing sponsorship deals with legal entities linked to the club’s new Saudi owners to ensure that such deals are negotiated at fair market value.

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