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Opinion

‘The rank hypocrisy surrounding the Newcastle United takeover’

3 days ago
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I have just finished reading the latest nonsense on the Newcastle United takeover.

This one came from the Daily Mail with a headline of: ‘The glamorous financier who brought blood money into the Premier League’

Yes, that’s wor Amanda, whom a certain Ms. Harriet Johnston, Associate Editor, has got her morals in a twist about. As described by the Daily Mail when she joined them in 2019: “Harriet’s areas of interest include women’s lifestyle, real life, fashion, beauty, the royals, food and drink.” Clearly, Ms. Johnston’s journalistic ‘expertise’ and experience in global geo-politics, human rights and the workings of the Premier League is founded on solid footings (joke!).

Now settle down for a little story.

Should it have escaped anyone’s attentions, the Premier League has an ongoing broadcasting deal with a certain beIN Sports. The deal is worth around £5 billion, as was the one before it. Obviously, as part of overseas TV rights, each Premier League club enjoys income revenue from the deal.

Now, the Chairman of beIN sports is one Nasser Al-Khelaifi. He also happens to be Chairman and CEO of beIN Media Group. He is a Qatari ‘businessman’ and chairman of Qatar Sports Investments (remember this for later), the Qatar Tennis Federation, the Qatar Squash Foundation, President of Paris Saint-Germain FC, and vice president of the Asian Tennis Federation for West Asia. He’s is also a member of the organising committee for the FIFA Club World Cup and has been elected as the chairman of the European Club Association (ECA).

If that wasn’t enough, since 2019 he also sits on the UEFA Executive Committee, the most powerful board in European football.

So far so good, right?

Maybe you are asking, so what?

Ok, well in 2013 Nasser Al-Khelaifi was made minister without portfolio in the Qatari ‘government’ (another de-facto absolute Monarchy) by the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim. Yeah, that’s right, he’s a government minister.

Buckle in as it gets better. So, the Chairman of beIN Sports is also (I said earlier, remember this) Chairman of Qatar Sports Investments, right? Well, QSI happens to be —-Da Da Daaaa!— a subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA). QIA is the state-run sovereign-wealth fund. I kid you not.

Never mind the rest of the shenanigans involving PSG, FFP, Platini, Blatter, Qatar bribery in the athletics World Championship bid, or that Al-Khelaifi also faced criminal allegations in Switzerland related to the award of World Cup broadcasting rights. Or that beIN has broadcast rights to LaLiga, the Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A.

In addition, it also holds rights to all major international club and country competitions – including, the UEFA Champions League, the UEFA Europa League, all major CAF, AFC and CONCACAF competitions, together with the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championships.

The Premier League struck the deals with beIN Sports commencing December 2013, long before any Geordie dream of camels or donning a thobe for a night in the Bigg Market was even a spark in the most optimistic supporter’s mind. Every Premier League club has benefitted financially from those deals with a subsidiary of the Qatar state-ran sovereign-wealth fund. Where was the furore over any of this for the previous 7 years?

Hairy hands Keys and touchy feely Gray – the expats ran out of Sky Sports (and the UK, effectively) – front beIN’s Premier League coverage. I mean, if that alone isn’t the ultimate irony in this whole hand-wringing affair, then what is?

Qatar has an equally atrocious human rights record with additional longstanding ties to financing terrorism, to add to it’s – and the beIN chairman’s – myriad other questionable other behaviour. It wasn’t wor Amanda who opened the door to that in football with this Newcastle United takeover. It was the Premier League itself.

Equally, for all you doubters questioning and voicing your own morals, tell me, did you previously turn off your Sky coverage because of any of this?

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