Mike Ashley’s claim centres around comments made by Amanda Staveley (right) about the signage at St James’ Park
Newcastle United co-owner Amanda Staveley has said in High Court documents that she borrowed £30.5m to help fund her 10% stake in the club.
Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners firm led a Saudi Arabian backed takeover of Newcastle for £305m in October.
But in court documents seen by the BBC, she admitted claims made by former owner Mike Ashley that she borrowed the money from fellow co-owners the Reuben brothers, who also own 10% of the club.
The payment was made to another of Staveley’s companies, Cantervale Limited, with the remaining 80% of the Newcastle sale financed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
Staveley also says she borrowed £10m from Ashley to cover costs during the acquisition.
But, via his company St James Holdings, he is suing Staveley and her husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi for an immediate repayment of that loan, plus interest, because he claims the terms of the agreement have been breached, which she denies.
Ashley, who also owns Sports Direct, says part of the vendor loan agreement meant Staveley could not criticise his 14-year tenure as Newcastle owner.
He claims that her comments about “looking forward” to removing Sports Direct signs at St James’ Park and being “slightly frustrated” about being unable to take a picture without the signs in view amounted to Ashley being “admonished” and his reputation being “diminished”.
But Staveley’s lawyers said in her defence that the comments, made after a Premier League shareholders meeting on 11 November, were in response to “repeated questioning” from journalists about the top flight’s temporary ban on related-party sponsorship.
She also says any criticism of Ashley’s ownership was only made by the media and fans and that she had previously said “Mike was very fair and he did a good deal”.
In the High Court documents, she denies there was an agreement to keep the Sports Direct and Flannels (another Ashley company) signage up at St James’ Park for the rest of the 2021-22 season. Signs were taken down in December, two months after the takeover.
Staveley also says it was “embarrassing” that Ashley claimed an intention to end this alleged agreement “affected the commercial balance” of the club’s sale and therefore made “written information…misleading”.
Additionally, Staveley claims that Newcastle did not receive any sponsorship fees from Sports Direct or Flannels during three seasons from 2019-20 to 2021-22, and for the two seasons prior to that the club only received payments of about £1m for each season.
Representatives for Ashley have been contacted for a response.