A decision on the approval of the proposed Saudi Arabia-backed takeover of Newcastle United is expected to be pushed back following the emergence of new legal documents passed to the Premier League regarding TV piracy and illegal streaming in the gulf nation.
The proposed £300m deal fronted by businesswoman Amanda Staveley and supported by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has been surrounded by controversy ever since it became apparent it was a serious venture.
It has been labelled a ‘sportwashing’ exercise by critics, yet the takeover that would end the 13-year ownership of Mike Ashley at St James’ Park still looked to be progressing.
A decision on whether the takeover will be approved by the Premier League was expected relatively imminently, but the latest from The Guardian now suggests it will be delayed so as to examine new information it is alleged establishes a ‘firm link’ between the Saudi government and what is described as a ‘homegrown pirate TV and streaming service’ available on the BeoutQ platform.
It offers illegal access to sporting events, including Premier League football, bypassing the regional broadcast rights owned by Qatar-based beIN SPORTS. Relations between the neighbouring countries soured in 2017 when Saudi Arabia officially cut all ties.
The Guardian explains that the Premier League owners’ and directors’ test states digital piracy is illegal. And while the Saudi contingency in the Newcastle consortium have denied links to BeoutQ piracy, prospective owners must not provide ‘false, misleading or inaccurate information’.
It is why the Premier League must now investigate claims that there are ‘firm links’.
The Guardian notes the Saudis claim that BeoutQ originated in Cuba and Colombia, yet the country has failed to crack down on the platform, while as many as nine local legal firms are said to have declined taking on copyright cases brought by the Premier League, UEFA and La Liga.