Newcastle United and a proxy war, piracy allegations and a Saudi takeover bid

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Written by Mihir Vasavda
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Published: April 24, 2020 11:30:45 pm


Newcastle United is ready for a £300million takeover. (Source: Reuters)

The takeover bid

The Public Investment Fund, chaired by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, is main a group of buyers to finish a £300m takeover of Newcastle United, which is at the moment owned by British billionaire Mike Ashley. The deal, if accomplished, will make Saudi Arabia the most recent Middle Eastern investor in European soccer, after an Abu Dhabi-backed consortium took over Manchester City and Qatar’s funding of Paris Saint-Germain.

Qatari intervention

A Qatari broadcast firm, beIN Media Group, is the rights holder for exhibiting the Premier League matches within the Middle East. beIN’s three-year contract, value £500 million, is the PL’s second-biggest abroad deal in keeping with The Times. Earlier this week, the chief govt of the Doha-based group, Yousef al-Obaidly, has written to the league and its member golf equipment calling for them to additional examine the Newcastle deal and discouraging them from permitting the deal to materialise. The relationship between Saudi Arabia and Qatar has been strained since 2017, when the previous led a regional boycott of Qatar, accusing them of destabilizing the area.

‘Commercial rights theft’

beIN has ‘accused Saudi Arabia of backing a sophisticated piracy operation undermining its valuable television rights by siphoning off its broadcast signal’, in keeping with The New York Times. The BBC, quoting the letter, mentioned Al-Obaidly accused the Saudi authorities of the “facilitation of the near three-year theft of the Premier League’s commercial rights – and in turn your club’s commercial revenues – through its backing of the huge-scale beoutQ pirate service. It is no exaggeration to say that the future economic model of football is at stake.”

READ | Newcastle urged to reject ‘immoral’ Saudi-backed takeover bid

Piracy accusation

In September 2019, a report from model safety agency MarkMonitor – commissioned by world soccer’s governing physique FIFA – discovered hyperlinks of the piracy operation to Saudi Arabia. The New York Times mentioned it was ‘the largest operation in sports history, with the biggest athletic events around the world targeted, most of which were sold to beIN, the world’s largest purchaser of sports activities rights.’ It is alleged that beIN’s broadcasts had been transmitted through Arabsat – a regional satellite tv for pc operator through which Saudi Arabia is the largest investor – and the beIN feed was recognized with a beoutQ brand. FIFA and European soccer’s governing physique UEFA known as for the beoutQ service to be shut down, albeit with out success. Arabsat, as per the BBC, has ‘denied that beoutQ uses its frequencies to broadcast illegally and has accused beIN of being behind defamation attempts and misleading campaigns’.

Ownership take a look at

For the Newcastle deal to undergo, the buyers will first should go by way of the “owners’ and directors’ test.” According to The Financial Times, the take a look at is a ‘detailed assessment of the finances and business plan of prospective buyers’, and the Premier League officers ‘can block takeovers’. The BBC reported that though beIN just isn’t contemplating its partnership with the Premier League in the mean time, ‘the group did threaten to pull its deal with Serie A over the decision to stage the Italian Super Cup in Saudi Arabia’.

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