Soccer-Newcastle's Ashley says 'dark forces' preventing them from being powerhouse


FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Britain - September 27, 2020 Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley in the stands Pool via REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

(Reuters) - Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley said it is time for the "dark forces" preventing the Tyneside club from becoming a powerhouse to step aside, after initiating legal proceedings against the Premier League, British media reported.

It is the second legal action that British businessman Ashley has initiated against the league over an aborted takeover attempt by a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium last year.

The proposed 300 million pound ($420 million) takeover collapsed in July 2020. Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said the bid failed after the consortium declined an offer of independent arbitration and withdrew.

In September, Newcastle accused the league of acting inappropriately in rejecting the takeover bid, however, based on an owners and directors' test and said they would be "considering all relevant options available".

"It's now time for the dark forces that are preventing this football club from becoming the powerhouse that the fans deserve to step aside," Ashley said in a statement to the British media on Thursday.

A Premier League representative was not immediately available to respond to an emailed request for comment.

The UK competition appeal tribunal (CAT) said in a statement released on Thursday that it received a claim for damages last month from Ashley's St James Holdings Limited against the Premier League.

"The claimant alleges that the defendant (Premier League) prevented, or hindered, the proposed takeover and knew that its actions would prevent and/or delay the proposed takeover," a court document stated.

The claimant seeks "damages for loss of profit or, alternatively, loss of opportunity," the document said.

($1 = 0.7190 pounds)

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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