In the blue corner we have Mike Ashley, the despised former owner of Newcastle United who decided to sell the club in 2021.
And in the red corner we have Amanda Staveley, the businesswoman who brokered the deal between Ashley and the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), who now own the controlling stake in the Magpies.
The two titans of entrepreneurship could be heading for a monumental High Court date, with reports suggesting that Ashley is planning to sue Staveley and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi over an unspecified matter.
There’s no indication as to what has caused Ashley’s ire, although the rumoured legal case comes barely three months after the £305 million sale was completed.
Staveley and the investment duo the Reuben brothers own the remaining 20% stake that PIF does not have, and so she is a considerable force in the running of the North East club.
She dug her heels in determinedly when the Premier League initially blocked her attempts to buy Newcastle, and all things considered the process took as long as four years to complete – the last 17 months of that trying to cut the red tape that saw league chiefs and the FA examine the fineprint of Staveley’s relationship with the Saudi aristocracy.
Ashley had pushed through the sale and was thought to be on good terms with Staveley, however news of their potential court battle suggests that relations have soured markedly.
Could there be yet another remarkable twist in the protracted takeover of Newcastle United?
Derby County Courted By Familiar Face
It seems as though Ashley has not completely cut his ties with the beautiful game….
A businessman with a record of taking fallen high street giants in an attempt to revitalise them, Ashley could be set to take the same approach in football with crisis club Derby County.
The Rams are desperate for new investment – their sheer survival depends on it, according to some reports – and current owner Mel Morris is said to be considering a number of options.
One of them could be Ashley, who is no stranger to buying businesses racked with debt – the Midlanders are a reported £80 million in the hole, and it has been reported that he is very interested in taking on the challenge of restoring Derby to the top flight….assuming their financial future can first be resolved.
A handle of takeover bids have already fallen through. Erik Alonso’s offer fell through over claims he didn’t have the right financing in place, while Chris Kirchner’s proposed buyout hit the skids over a perceived lack of forward movement.
It is with real sadness that I can confirm I am withdrawing from the process to buy Derby County Football Club. First and foremost, I would like to apologize to the fans. As you know, I’ve been in talks with the administrators for about two months
— Chris Kirchner (@cskirchner) December 23, 2021
“I wanted to agree a deal that I thought was in the best interests of all parties but, unfortunately, the last 24 hours has proven that just isn’t possible,” Kirchner wrote on Twitter.
“So it is with deep regret that I must now stand aside and let the administrators pursue their own course.”
That ‘course’ could well be Mike Ashley, for better or worse….