Newcastle United Owner and Sports Direct Boss Mike Ashley Wins £15m Court Case

Wednesday July 26th, 2017

​Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley has been successful in a high court battle with an investment banker over a £15m deal reportedly made in a pub. 

​BBC News report Jeffrey Blue told the court that the Magpies chief went back on his word as Ashley apparently promised him a multi-million pound figure if he could increase Sports Direct's share price.

It was heard in court that the pair had engaged in 'drink-fuelled' meetings in a pub, with one occasion resulting in Ashley 'vomiting into a fireplace'.

Ashley's lawyers said he had won a 'comprehensive victory' although the court was also told that more than one meeting had taken place. The hearing heard that Ashley met Blue and three other finance specialists at the Horse and Groom in London four years ago where the involved parties had 'consumed a lot of alcohol'.

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Ashley said: "I can't remember the details of the conversations that we had in the pub as it was a heavy night of drinking. If I did say to Mr Blue that I would pay him £15m if he could increase (Sports Direct's) share price to £8, it would be obvious to everyone, including Mr Blue, that I wasn't being serious."


The former Rangers shareholder revealed he had paid Blue £1m in 'other deals' unrelated to the Horse and Groom meeting.


Blue described Ashley as a 'serious businessman', however, he also said the work ethic at Sports Direct was 'like nothing else I have ever see' with business conducted 'in unorthodox ways and in unusual venues'.

The judge said that during the Horse and Groom meeting, Ashley promised him £15m, although Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell said Blue only mentioned the figure of £1m to him.

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Going in Ashley's favour, judge Justice Leggatt said: "No reasonable person present would have thought that the offer to pay Mr Blue £15m was serious and was intended to create a contract. 


"They all thought it was a joke. The fact that Mr Blue has since convinced himself that the offer was a serious one, and that a legally binding agreement was made, shows only that the human capacity for wishful thinking knows few bounds."

Leggatt ordered that Blue would have to pick up  Ashley's legal bill of £1.5m, as well as his own of 'one million odd'.

After the hearing Mr Ashley said: "The only reason the Sports Direct share price exceeded £8, and will hopefully do so again, is because of the sterling efforts of all the people who work at Sports Direct."


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