Newcastle’s prospective takeover is reportedly in ‘serious doubt’ after the World Trade Organisation revealed that Saudi Arabia is behind a service that illegally streams major sporting events.
The final report on the findings is expected to be published in mid-June but it is understood that the report has ruled that the Saudi government is behind beoutQ, a pirate satellite TV and streaming service which provides illegal access to sporting events including the Premier League and La Liga.
The findings of the WTO raise further question marks over the prospective takeover of the Amanda Stavely-led consortium bidding to take control at St James’ Park, a £300m deal which would see Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund take an 80% stake in the Premier League side.
According to the Guardian, the WTO report establishes a ‘clear link between the beoutQ piracy service and the Saudi state’, a link which has been denied by the country and Newcastle‘s prospective new ownership.
Saudi Arabia previously claimed that the service originated from Cuba and Colombia – a claim the governments of both countries firmly denied – though it later emerged that beoutQ was being broadcast from the Arabsat satellite, majority-owned by the Saudi state. It has since been removed.
The latest developments – alongside several human rights issues – raise serious doubts over the prospective takeover of the North East side, with the Premier League yet to grant approval despite the initial application being submitted almost two months ago – already double the expected time.
Javier Tebas, the president of Spain’s La Liga, has also urged the Premier League to consider the damage caused by beoutQ’s pirating of broadcasts when considering whether to allow Newcastle’s Saudi-funded takeover.