Premier League clubs told to unite and block £300million Newcastle takeover

The Premier League and its clubs have been called upon to block the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United by its overseas TV partner beIN Sports.

Newcastle are on the verge of being sold to a sovereign wealth fund – involving Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – in a £300million-plus deal.

The Magpies could be in the hands of the consortium, involving financier Amanda Staveley in the next three weeks if the Premier League give their approval.

But the Qatar-based broadcaster has said Saudi Arabia should be held to account for its involvement in a pirate TV network, which illegally broadcasts Premier League matches.

The Premier League has been among a number of organisations and governing bodies who called on Saudi state satellite operator Arabsat to stop providing a platform for a pirate network they said was “abusing” sport.

The network, called beoutQ, first began streaming sporting events illegally in 2017.

Repeated attempts by sports governing bodies and rights holders have done little to halt the piracy.

Last July, the Premier League said it had spoken to nine law firms in Saudi Arabia who either refused to act or later recused themselves when asked about pursuing a copyright complaint against beoutQ.

BeIN Sports are the Premier League’s biggest overseas broadcast partner, with their latest TV deal worth £500million for three years.

Yousef al-Obaidly, the chief executive of beIN, has written to all 20 Premier League clubs and also petitioned the governing bodies’ chief executive, Richard Masters.

“The danger of allowing the acquisition of a controlling or material interest (whether acquired directly or indirectly) in a major Premier League club by what is effectively the Saudi Arabian government cannot be ignored given the country's past and continuing illegal actions and their direct impact upon the commercial interests of the Premier League, its member clubs, its broadcast partners and football in general.

“As a longstanding partner and huge investor in the Premier League, we urge you to consider carefully all the implications of doing so.”

He adds: “The legacy of the illegal service will continue to impact you going forward.

“When the Premier League season re-commences in the coming months, all of the league’s broadcasters’ content will continue to be readily and illegally available via the IPTV streaming functionality on the beoutQ set-top-boxes which were sold in significant quantities in Saudi Arabia and the broader MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

“Furthermore – given the crippling economic effect that coronavirus is having on the sports industry – this is all happening at a time when football clubs need to protect their broadcast revenue the most.”

Source: Read Full Article