Saudi Takeover at Risk as beIN Sports Contact Premier League Over Piracy Concerns

Adam Aladay
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​The Saudi Arabian-backed consortium's potential takeover of Newcastle United is at risk of falling through because beIN Sports, who are based in Qatar, have voiced their concerns to the Premier League regarding pirate broadcasts. 

It has looked increasingly likely that Mike Ashley's time at Newcastle was drawing to a close, with a sovereign wealth fund headed by Amanda Staveley and backed by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman said to be close to striking a deal to take over the reigns. 

And while a large majority of Magpies fans have been in celebration mode as Ashley's departure nears, there are ​a number of serious issues regarding this takeover which have gone somewhat under the radar. 

But instead of the human rights abuses or the numerous other crimes Bin Salman has been linked with, the latest update is that the takeover is at risk because of concerns over piracy. ​The Guardian report that beIN Sports have contacted the Premier League to inform them that Saudi Arabia should be held accountable for their involvement in a pirate network. This network, beoutQ, has been illegally streaming top-flight English games since 2017. 

The chief executive of beIN Yousef al-Obaidly has contacted the Premier League, explaining that the potential buyer of ​Newcastle has 'caused huge damage to your club's and the Premier League's commercial revenues'.

“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," he said. 

"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.”

This comes after Amnesty International also voiced their concerns regarding the morality of allowing this takeover to happen, explaining that the ​Premier League is at risk of 'becoming a patsy'. 

In a letter to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters, director of Amnesty UK said (as quoted by ​the Daily Mail): "I believe there are serious questions to address in determining whether the owners and directors of the company seeking to acquire NUFC are meeting standards that can protect the reputation and image of the game.

"If the Crown Prince, by virtue of his authority over Saudi Arabia's economic relations and via control of his country's sovereign wealth fund, becomes the beneficial owner of NUFC, how can this be positive for the reputation and image of the Premier League?

"So long as these questions (concerning Saudi Arabia's human rights record) remain unaddressed, the Premier League is putting itself at risk of becoming a patsy of those who want to use the glamour and prestige of Premier League football to cover up actions that are deeply immoral, in breach of international law and at odds with the values of the Premier League and the global footballing community."

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