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Reports of Newcastle United takeover to be sorted due to Saudi and Qatar peace deal sound dubious

5 months ago
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It is now 59 days since the Newcastle United takeover was passed to the Premier League.

Fair to say that not many, if any, of us imagined that we would see Newcastle play another competitive match under the malevolent ownership of Mike Ashley.

Yet in only 14 days time, Newcastle United will take on Sheffield United at St James Park, with no confidence amongst supporters that there will be any change in the meantime.

A new report though claims that there could be a breakthrough on the horizon.

The Mail publishing an article declaring: ‘Saudi Arabia to work out peace deal with Qatar in bid to save Newcastle takeover from collapsing after broadcaster BeIN Sports threatened to derail the £300m deal over claims of TV piracy.’

Obviously we have had to rely on the media for ‘updates’ as none of the interested parties (seller Mike Ashley, Saudi PIF bidders, Premier League) would be able to comment on what is actually happening behind the scenes in terms of processing the Newcastle United takeover.

However, the TV piracy seems a pretty clear issue in terms of what is being alleged by Qatar (biIN Sports) and denied by Saudi Arabia.

The beIN Sports side of things claim that the Saudi government are behind the TV piracy, or at least have facilitated it, whilst Saudi Arabia completely deny all wrong doing.

Now this report from The Mail claims (see below) that they have inside information that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are set to agree a ‘peace deal’  on the TV piracy issue(s), that would enable the Newcastle United takeover to happen.

I would like to believe this report will prove true and we will see things quickly progress but it does sound a little dubious.

Despite claiming insider knowledge on the subject of talks between the two sides, even The Mail report states that the Qatar side of things haven’t even been approached as yet. So with not even any talks agreed in principle to happen, never mind agreement reached, even if you believe that these talks will happen, very difficult to see anything agreed in the near future.

You also would have to think this is all a little late in the day, as the Premier League have had the takeover in their hands for over eight weeks and the Newcastle United takeover has been in the planning for a year or so overall. This TV piracy has been argued for three years between Qatar / beIN Sports and Saudi Arabia, so it is difficult to think that the top lawyers the Saudi PIF bidders have working on their behalf, would have let things get to this point, if they seriously thought there was any chance of the TV piracy issue being in any way a possibility that could block a takeover happening.

The rift between the Saudis and Qatar also goes way beyond any dispute over football / TV piracy, with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates all putting in place an economic and diplomatic embargo on Qatar in June 2017, over claims that the Qatar state supports terrorism.

To think that suddenly football would bring Saudi Arabia and Qatar together, is probably a little bit far-fetched.

Whilst politics is dominating the debate, the Premier League owners and directors test is simply a legal process, lawyers on behalf of the PL deciding whether whether those bidding to buy Newcastle United tick the relevant boxes.

I think there is no way the Saudi PIF side of things would ever have got involved in buying NUFC if they thought there was any chance of the embarrassment of being publicly declared as unfit to be Premier League club owners.

What I think is far more likely is that firstly, the Premier League have had to be seen to be spending a long time deliberating over this takeover, due to the emotions surrounding it and the worldwide spotlight. Then secondly, the Premier League may well be asking the Saudis for their plans after takeover and various assurances on what will happen in the future.

The Mail report:

‘Saudi Arabia is set to work out a peace deal over TV rights with Qatar amid fears the row could scupper the takeover of Newcastle.

Sources close to negotiations have told The Mail on Sunday that the Saudi wealth fund bidding for the club have pledged to use their influence in government to open talks between the two nations after Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports threatened to derail the £300million deal over claims of TV piracy.

The station complained that a pirate operator in Saudi Arabia has infringed their commercial rights by simulcasting their stream to broadcast to homes throughout the Kingdom.

Sources close to Qatar said they have not yet been contacted by the Saudi side, and that major concessions would be required to secure any agreement. It is thought that the fraught relationship between the two states will be a significant hurdle to completing an accord.

The consortium hope their political efforts will help get the Newcastle deal over the line.’

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