Mike Ashley is suing the new co-owners of Newcastle United for breaking the conditions of a £10 million loan he gave them to enable its sale which stated that they would not publicly criticise his 14-year tenure of the club, MailOnline can reveal.

Sports Direct owner Mr Ashley says that Amanda Staveley, a wealthy businesswoman, has defaulted in her loan. This is after Mr Ashley violated an agreement not to critique his management of the club through the media. Also refusing to let advertising by his company remain on its home field until the end the current season.

Documents have been submitted at London’s High Court by Mr Ashley’s legal team, demanding the immediate return of the £10 million, plus interest, which he maintains was given to Ms Staveley to cover ‘advisory, legal and other costs and commissions,’ in return for sticking to the strict conditions.

Mehrdad Ghodoussi is Mehrdad’s longtime partner and a successful Iranian businessman. He was sued in the proceeding as a guarantor. She would have to pay back that amount.

Following protracted negotiations, Newcastle’s sale was finally confirmed last November after it was taken over in a controversial £305 million deal by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is owned by the country’s government.

The sale negotiations were lead by Ms Staveley (48), a wealthy businesswoman who has also a 10% stake in the club.

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley claims that wealthy businesswoman Amanda Staveley has defaulted on the loan after violating an agreement not to criticise his running of the club in the media

Amanda Staveley

Mike Ashley (left), owner of Sports Direct, claims Amanda Staveley (right), a wealthy businesswoman, has defaulted in her loan. This is despite him violating an agreement that he would not allow criticisms to be made about his management of the club through the media

Club director Amanda Staveley and partner Mehrdad Ghodoussi (left) with newly appointed Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe

Amanda Staveley (left), club director, and Mehrdad Godoussi (right), newly appointed Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe

She is rumoured to be worth an estimated £100 million and is chief executive of PCP Capital Partners. Ms Staveley has publicly declared that she has invested her ‘family’s money’ into Newcastle United.

But in another dramatic twist, the High Court document submitted by Mr Ashley’s legal team questions this.

They maintain that Ms Staveley only managed to secure her 10% share of Newcastle United after being given a £30 million loan by billionaire property developers the Reuben brothers, who also form part of the takeover consortium and own another 10% of the club.

Under the loan agreement, completed last October, which forms the centre of the legal dispute between Ms Staveley and Mr Ashley, she had two years to pay back his £10 million. His lawyers claimed that her attorneys knew that if she violated any conditions she would have to immediately return the money.

They state that this was specifically written into the loan agreement she had with him and that it would be considered a ‘default’ if Ms Staveley ‘admonishes’ his reign at Newcastle United publicly.

The document maintains: ‘Mr. Ashley wanted protection against public criticisms of his tenure as ultimate beneficial owner of NUFCL (Newcastle United Football Club Limited) by new owners and / or managers of NUFCL because such criticisms carry particular weight.’

The document claims that despite this, Ms Staveley publicly criticised Mr Ashley’s running of Newcastle United in the national media after the takeover, which ‘diminished’ his reputation as it portrayed it in a ‘negative light.’

It lists a series of media interviews where these comments were made insisting that they were ‘derogatory’ and brought Mr Ashley’s time at the club into ‘disrepute.’

His lawyers maintain that Sports Direct also suffered a ‘marketing loss’ after signage was removed from Newcastle’s home ground, St James’ Park.

Staveley is rumoured to be worth an estimated £100 million and is chief executive of PCP Capital Partners

Staveley is rumoured to be worth an estimated £100 million and is chief executive of PCP Capital Partners

According to Ms. Staveley, she spoke out about her need for this sale as soon as possible in articles published in national media. Despite agreeing with Mr Ashley’s view that certain of the information would be retained.

The document adds: ‘Accordingly, the First Defendant’s (Ms Staveley) statements, as quoted in the above articles, individually and collectively, seek to impart, assume as correct, and / or endorse a negative judgment of Mr. Ashley as ultimate beneficial owner of NUFCL.

‘In addition, or in the alternative, these statements were either intended to diminish Mr. Ashley’s reputation in relation to his ownership and / or management of NUFCL, or might reasonably have been expected to do so.’

Lawyers for Mr Ashley initially asked Ms Staveley’s legal team for a return of the £10 million loan on 17 November 2021 but it was not paid, resulting in the current legal action.

An official for Mr Ghodoussi, Ms Staveley’s spokesperson said that Mehrdad Ghodoussi had filed legal proceedings against Amanda Staveley. This claim is related to the purchase of NUFC.

Although Ms Staveley & Mr Ghodoussi are not going to discuss the specifics of litigation, they feel confident in defending each claim fully.

Ms Staveley and Mr Ghodoussi will continue to work hard at Newcastle United, despite the litigation. They should instead be focusing on the deadlines and opportunities presented by January’s transfer window.