Tax officials raided the home ground of St James’ Park in Newcastle United in April 2017

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley has filed a lawsuit against the Premier League saying it is time for “dark forces to step aside” regarding the club’s takeover.

Ashley claims the Premier League blocked the £ 300m deal last summer and is seeking damages after the Saudi Arabia-backed deal collapsed.

Ashley also claimed the league violated competition law “by excluding new owners and new investments in clubs”.

The Premier League has refused to comment.

Ashley is seeking damages for loss of “profit or alternative opportunity” and an injunction for the Premier League to reverse their decision to see the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as director of the club.

The Premier League have claimed they haven’t blocked the sale of Newcastle and have offered arbitration over the disagreement over who would run the club.

The consortium, led by Amanda Staveley, stepped back from the deal in August 2020, but Ashley said he still hopes to sell the club to the same buyers.

The club are now seeking their own arbitration to resolve their dispute with the Premier League while trying to push a deal through.

Ashley said: “Now is the time for the dark forces that are preventing this football club from becoming the powerhouse that fans deserve to step aside.”

In the meantime, HM Revenue & Customs has suspended its four year criminal investigation into Newcastle over transfer payments to former players.

Magpies chief executive Lee Charnley was arrested in 2017 as part of a tax fraud investigation – Operation Loom.

The club have been accused by HMRC of making “secret” payments to agents and players for transfers, including strikers Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse and former midfielder Moussa Sissoko.

After the investigation was discontinued, Ashley said, “After four years of being subjected to this investigation, I am pleased that the criminal investigation has now been closed.”

All about the BBC footer - sounds