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Opinion

‘This explains why we are in limbo with the Newcastle United takeover’

4 weeks ago
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It has been a long time since I felt the compulsion to write for The Mag.

Like most of you I have felt a creeping sense of apathy towards all things football related due to the continuing quest for average in the corridors of power at St James Park.

Back in May I felt my pulse raise slightly as it seemed that we finally had a Newcastle United takeover story with some credence, but even that has fallen into farce due to geopolitical matters, and a league with a spine made from gelatine.

So what has brought me back you may ask?

Why would I feel the need to set fingers to key board after so long away to write for The Mag?

Well, it is the Newcastle United takeover, or more accurately, my strongly held suspicions as to why we have not heard from the Premier League, and likely never will.

Firstly, why the Premier League absolutely has to deny the Newcastle United takeover.

Forgetting the human rights abuses for a second, not for any other reason than they don’t form part of the league’s criteria for testing, there is one glaring reason that the league definitely cannot approve the takeover. It is fairly obvious that Saudi Arabia has been involved with, or certainly has known about, pirating the beIN Sports signal. Just this alone disqualifies Saudi from owning a Premier League club, like it or not beIN Sports are one of the largest customers for TV rights that the Premier League has, and to ignore their pleas in favour of Saudi investment in a single club would be suicide.

It would send a message to every commercial partner that when your intellectual property is threatened, that the League will turn its back on you, that message has the potential to cost the League billions and in turn cause a drop in revenue to every club in the Premier League.

So that’s all pretty bad, now why the Premier League absolutely cannot deny the Newcastle United takeover.

Whilst it is fairly obvious that Saudi Arabia certainly was aware of the piracy, and at the very least turned a blind eye to allow it to happen, there hasn’t really been any concrete evidence or even anything approaching a conviction for this offence.

According to the League’s owners and directors test, an individual or consortium can be turned down if they have been convicted of an offence in another country which would also be an offence in this country….and the Saudis haven’t. Not to mention that the level of wealth on the side of the Saudis would almost certainly make any legal challenge taken to CAS (the Court of Arbitration in Sport) extremely time consuming and costly, and in all honesty, the Premier League would more than likely lose the case.

As we have seen recently, with the Manchester City FFP debacle, CAS has no issue in ruling against a governing body where they feel that said body has failed to follow its own rules.

So where does all that leave the takeover?

It leaves it exactly where it is and explains why we are in limbo. The Premier League is stuck in an impossible situation, it can neither allow or deny the takeover without the potential for enormous consequences.

My sincere belief is that the League hoped that the WTO report would give them grounds to deny, it didn’t.

So now they are playing the delay game in the hope that the Saudis walk away when they see that their potential for investment (in the short term) has been handicapped by delaying well into the transfer window.

On Monday we saw the announcement of new shirt sponsors.

I know that some fans took this as a bad sign but in reality it was just the club carrying on whilst waiting, the deal isn’t worth enough to be an obstacle to the new owners in reality, but the club needed to sort a sponsor for next season.

We have also seen player contracts extended, a free transfer goalkeeper arrive and the extension of the Puma kit deal.

There will be more of this in the coming weeks if the league keep deliberating, but the longer that deliberation continues without the Saudis walking away, the harder it gets for the Premier League to make a decision.

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