Saudi Arabia make peace with Qatari TV – Leading to Newcastle United takeover speculation
Wednesday afternoon has seen renewed Newcastle United takeover speculation.
News from Saudi Arabia sparking the question, as to whether this has brought the NUFC takeover saga a small, or even significant, step closer.
Saudi Arabia having confirmed that the four and a half year ban against beIN Sports will be lifted.
The Qatari broadcaster will also receive damages, as part of a $1bn arbitration case that was launched by beIN.
Whilst maybe most interesting for Newcastle fans, is the news that the Saudi government has also pledged to work directly with beIN to close down any TV piracy in Saudi Arabia.
Amongst the positives on the Qatar / beIN side of things, it means that now they will have access to the biggest market within the region that they pay to have Premier League rights for, with people in Saudi Arabia now allowed to have access to the beIN sports coverage.
Martyn Ziegler is Chief sports reporter for The Times and he believes a big motivation for these moves happening now, is that the rights for December’s FIFA Arab Cup have just gone out for tender.
How much the above, if at all, might affect the Newcastle United takeover remains to be seen.
Making sense of any progress / where the Newcastle United takeover process is at, often feels like trying to do a jigsaw in the pitch-black.
When the NUFC takeover was with the Premier League last year for ‘approval’, the issue of separation of the Saudi PIF from Saudi state, along with alleged TV piracy, were seen as a double whammy by many in terms of making it impossible for the sale by Mike Ashley to be allowed to go through.
As things stood in 2020, unless separation could be shown by Saudi PIF from the Saudi state, then it meant with piracy still ongoing as a problem in Saudi Arabia for beIN, the Saudi PIF would be seen as part of the Saudi state alleged to be allowing the TV piracy to happen.
The separation issue never having a conclusion with the Premier League because the Saudi consortium pulled out, without ever having the arguments officially heard by the Premier League as to who were going to be the owners / directors who needed to be tested for suitability.
It is difficult to see today’s news as anything but a positive for the chances of a Newcastle United takeover, with piracy and any other beIN issues no longer set to be potential impassable obstacles.
However, the issue of what the Premier League will accept and what the Saudi led consortium might offer, in terms of what would be enough / acceptable to pass the owners / directors question, is still impossible to answer.
Going back to my comparison of the Newcastle United takeover being as transparent as trying to do a jigsaw in the dark, we don’t even know for sure that the Saudis are still interested in buying the club. Most of us believe that they are because of what we hear second hand, though it could be possible that the Saudis are not even interested any more in trying to complete this Newcastle United takeover jigsaw, whether that be with the lights turned on or off.
Maybe the most relevant question is whether the Premier League saw the piracy issue as the justifiable biggest obstacle to a takeover, or the only real big one? As with the best legal team money can buy, could there be a form of words or different structure put forward, that would satisfy the Saudi PIF / State separation issue for the Premier League?
With the total mess on the playing side under Steve Bruce, plus the NUFC arbitration hearing with Premier League not due to be heard until January 2022, Newcastle fans will be hoping against hope that today’s moves by Saudi Arabia could just maybe be something that helps smooth the way for a takeover to happen.
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