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Tyne Talk

Newcastle takeover in serious doubt (WTO) author now admits ‘wouldn’t shock me’ if still goes through

2 years ago

Tuesday night brought the latest instalment to the Newcastle United takeover saga.

A story by Simon Ingle in The Guardian claimed that the Newcastle United takeover now had serious question marks hanging over it.

The Guardian says that the Premier League were given confidential access earlier in May to a report from the WTO (World Trade Organisation, who are at times called to adjudicate between members (countries) and usually appoint a panel of three or five independent experts to look into any dispute).

The newspaper saying their information was that the report found that Saudi Arabia are / were behind the satellite TV service beoutQ, which is at the heart of the piracy debate.

The report won’t be made public until the middle of next month (June) but The Guardian claimed (see below) that this independent WTO report could be enough to stop the Newcastle United takeover happening.

Newcastle fans on social media were quick to point out that this in the main appeared to be a rehash of a very similar story by the same author (Simon Ingle) back on 11 May 2020. That article leading with…

‘New legal documents have been passed to the Premier League during the past 24 hours that raise fresh questions about whether the controversial £300m Saudi Arabia-funded takeover of Newcastle United should get the go-ahead, the Guardian can reveal.

Premier League lawyers are understood to be reviewing information which is said to establish a firm link between the Saudi government and a homegrown pirate TV and streaming service…’

As always with anything to do with the Newcastle United takeover, you are very much working with smoke and mirrors, when trying to work out what is happening. However, if there was anything so definitive in terms of negative for the NUFC bidders in this WTO report, that would block a takeover, then surely it would have triggered something to be made official by now.

As we said last night…

‘An interesting and possibly worrying development but whether it is a deal breaker remains to be seen.

Certainly a scoop for The Guardian that they have made public the Premier League having this WTO report in their possession BUT how much weight it carries remains to be seen.’

Interesting then that we also had this exchange on Twitter in the aftermath of the Guardian ‘exclusive’…

Jason Burt has been on the ball with the Newcastle United takeover tale these past two months and indeed it was he on the 29 March 2020 when The Telegraph sparked this latest takeover story into life, said that the deal had reached the point whereby both Mike Ashley’s side and the Amanda Staveley fronted bid had formally informed the Premier League (on 24 March 2020) that a buyout bid was in progress to try and complete the purchase/sale of NUFC.

Jason Burt (The Telegraph):

“The Guardian story is written very strongly tonight and Sean Ingle is an excellent reporter.

“My latest understanding is, though, to still expect the Newcastle United takeover to – eventually – go ahead but, blimey, I have rarely dealt with something as complicated as this.”

Simon Ingle (The Guardian):

“Wouldn’t shock me if you are right … and agree it’s a fascinating case whatever happens next (and thanks for the nice words).”

So Jason Burt still confident the deal will go through…eventually, whilst the author of last night’s Guardian exclusive also accepts that this could well be the outcome.

Like many of you, I’m amused to see Simon Ingle refer to the Newcastle United takeover as a ‘fascinating case’ and indeed to the outside world that is the story of our football club, a constant source of amusement and bemusement.

All we want is a football club that is some kind of normal in terms of trying to be the best it can, on and off the pitch.

Who does or doesn’t own NUFC is something that sadly we have no vote on but what we do know is that even one more year to add to Mike Ashley’s 13 so far, would be a horrific outcome to what has been an absolutely draining experience, in terms of this never ending takeover saga.

The Guardian report on Tuesday night:

‘While the WTO’s 130-page final report will not be published until mid-June, it is understood that the independent ruling firmly establishes that the Saudi government is behind beoutQ…a case against Saudi Arabia was taken to the WTO, the highest judicial body that could rule on the matter. It has now issued its ruling – finding that Saudi Arabia is in breach of international law as a result of beoutQ.

The development will raise fundamental questions about whether Newcastle’s takeover – which would lead to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund taking an 80% stake in the club, with PCP Capital Partners and the property developers David and Simon Reuben taking 10% each – will pass the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test. That test can be failed if a crime is committed overseas that would also be one in the UK. It is also made clear to prospective owners that false, misleading or inaccurate information cannot be submitted to the Premier League.

With Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, also the chairman of the Public Investment Fund, the WTO report establishes a clear legal link between the beoutQ piracy service and the Saudi state. However, that link is denied by the country as well as Newcastle’s prospective Saudi majority owners.

Saudi Arabia had previously claimed beoutQ originated in Cuba and Colombia, prompting the governments of both countries to issue firm denials. It later emerged that beoutQ was being broadcast from the Arabsat satellite, which is majority-owned by the Saudi state and has its headquarters in the country.

BeoutQ has since been removed from Arabsat. However, beoutQ illegal set-top boxes which allow the streaming of major broadcasters, including Sky and BT, are still widely available widely across the region. In January, Saudi Arabia was named in a European commission report for its failure to crack down on the platform. It also remains on a US government priority watch list as one of the “notorious markets for counterfeiting and piracy”.’


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