Yet more doubt has been cast on the chances of Newcastle's takeover going through this summer, with the Premier League 'waging war' on Saudi Arabian piracy – which has been described as taking place on an 'unprecedented level'.
The proposed £300m deal, fronted by businesswoman Amanda Staveley and supported by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has been dragging on for some time now. Despite a number of human rights concerns – not really a factor in the Premier League's test of fit and proper persons – it's the issue of piracy that has held up the deal.
The proposed deal was said to be in 'serious doubt' towards the end of May, after the World Trade Organisation ruled the Saudis were behind a pirate satellite TV and streaming service. The Mirror now report that the potential takeover is in 'huge doubt' after the Premier League's executives and legal teams, who must approve the deal, have 'waged a fierce battle' against the Saudis due to piracy issues.
The Premier League have described it as piracy on an 'unprecedented scale' for the last three years, which has cost broadcast partners billions. It isn't just the Premier League who have been after the Saudis because of matters relating to broadcasting rights – in fact, along with the Premier League, FIFA, UEFA, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1 have also pursued the state.
With regards to the proposed takeover, a source told the Mirror: “The country who are now trying to buy a Premier League club and trying to pass the owners and directors have stolen from the very organisation they now need the approval from.”
The Newcastle takeover was initially expected to be waved through after just three weeks, giving enough time for the necessary checks to be made – but the length of the delay has made it clear that the Premier League are thinking long and hard about whether to hand the keys to one of their sleeping giants to the state.