HM Revenue & Customs has dropped its four-year-long criminal investigation into Newcastle United regarding transfer payments for former players.
Magpies managing director Lee Charnley was arrested as part of a tax fraud investigation – Operation Loom – in 2017.
The club was alleged by HMRC to have made “secret” payments to agents and players for transfers including those of forwards Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, plus former midfielder Moussa Sissoko.
Following the discontinuation of the probe, Newcastle owner Mike Ashley said: “After four years of the club being subjected to this investigation, I am pleased that the criminal investigation has now been discontinued.
“It is now time for the dark forces that are preventing this football club from becoming the power house that the fans deserve, to step aside.”
Meanwhile, Ashley has filed a legal claim against the Premier League for allegedly blocking the takeover of the club last summer.
He is seeking damages for the collapse of the £300m sale of the club to Amanda Staveley’s Saudi Arabian-backed consortium.
It is also claimed by Ashley that the Premier League breached competition law “by excluding new owners and new investment in member clubs”.
Ashley is seeking damages for loss of “profit or opportunity” and an injunction for the Premier League to reverse its decision about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia being considered as a director of the club.
The Premier League has maintained that it did not block the sale of Newcastle and offered arbitration over the disagreement with regard to who would run the club.
Staveley’s consortium backed away from the deal in August 2020, but Ashley said he still hopes to sell the club to the same buyers.
The club is now seeking its own arbitration to settle its dispute with the Premier League as it seeks to push through a deal.
The Premier League has declined to comment.