The proposed takeover of Newcastle United is facing further ‘complication’ following the World Trade Organisation’s ruling on Saudi Arabia’s breaching of piracy laws.
Newcastle are currently subject of a £300m takeover that is majority funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, whose chairman is Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Should the deal be approved it will catapult the Magpies into the financial elite of world football, though huge doubts remain over whether the prospective owners will pass the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test with a ruling yet to be made.
Premier League officials have been warned against approving the takeover given Saudi Arabia’s concerning human-rights record, whilst there has also been concern expressed over the illegal streaming of major sporting events by the nation, including England’s top tier and Spain’s La Liga.
The World Trade Organisation has been investigating links between broadcaster beoutQ and the nation, with the organisation’s findings implicating Saudi Arabia had breached laws by ‘facilitating the beoutQ operation.’
According to the BBC, the consortium’s bid to buy Newcastle – who have been owned by retail entrepreneur Mike Ashley since 2007 – ‘could be complicated’ by the revelations as Premier League lawyers continue to assess the deal two months after the initial agreement.
The rights to show Premier League games in the Middle East belong to Qatar-based beIN Sports, whose chief executive, Yousef al-Obaidly, has previously written to Premier League clubs warning them against the Newcastle takeover. Saudi Arabia and its government has however denied aiding beoutQ and the illegal broadcasting of sporting events.
However, in a fresh twist, Sky Sports report that Newcastle have received a rival takeover bid from US-based businessman Henry Mauriss, the CEO of TV company, Clear TV, submitting an offer of £350m for the North East side.
The American has been monitoring developments on the proposed Saudi-takeover of the club and has now made his move to assume control, with the report suggesting Mauriss is keen to complete a deal before the start of next season, which is likely to get underway in mid-September.