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Newcastle United Takeover: Why The Premier League Should Amend Its Rules On The Appointment & Challenge Of Arbitrators

Newcastle United Takeover: Why The Premier League Should Amend Its Rules On The Appointment & Challenge Of Arbitrators
Tuesday, 23 March 2021 By Jonathan Bellamy

Last year, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund walked away from a high-profile purchase of Newcastle United FC (NUFC), citing the “prolonged process[1] they faced from the Premier League, with concerns revolving around the influence that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would have on running the club.  Newcastle sought to challenge this matter via the Premier League’s arbitration procedure; however, the case ended up in the High Court after Newcastle discovered evidence that brought the impartiality of the arbitration panel’s Chairman into question. 

The High Court published its judgment on 5 March 2021. The article examines the decision and asks whether, in light of events, the Premier League should amend its arbitration rules – particularly those relating to the way arbitrators are appointed and challenged – to avoid similar occurrences in the future.  Specifically, it looks at:

  • Facts of the Newcastle United case
    • The proposed sale
    • The Premier League’s determination, and the disputed arbitration
    • The High Court decisions
  • How the Premier League arbitration procedure compares to other independent arbitration bodies
  • How other independent arbitration bodies would have have managed the matters in this case:
    • The International Chamber of Commerce
    • London Court of International Arbitration
    • The Court of Arbitration for Sport
    • English Football League
  • What should be done to improve the Premier League arbitration procedure?

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Written by

Jonathan Bellamy

Jonathan Bellamy

Jonathan Bellamy is barrister at 39 Essex Chambers specialising in commercial law and sports law. His sports law work includes commercial contract disputes (including player-club, player-agent, service contracts, marketing, sponsorship and online gaming), image rights and regulatory. Jonathan is a practising Chartered Arbitrator, FA Rule K arbitrator and arbitrator for Sports Resolutions’ Commercial, Football and Integrity & Discipline Panels. He is recognised in the major legal directories as “very strong at sports cases with a commercial and arbitration angle” and as a “first rate football litigator and renowned arbitrator".

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