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    Newcastle United takeover ‘in serious doubt’ due to WTO ruling – The Guardian

    An exclusive on Tuesday early evening has claimed that the Newcastle United takeover now has serious question marks hanging over it.

    The Guardian says that the Premier League were given confidential access earlier this month to a report from the WTO (World Trade Organisation).

    The newspaper saying the report found that Saudi Arabia are behind the satellite TV service beoutQ, which is at the heart of the piracy debate.

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    The WTO are at times called to adjudicate between members (countries) and usually appoint a panel of three or five independent experts to look into any dispute.

    The Guardian claim that this independent WTO report could be enough to stop the Newcastle United takeover happening.

    The report won’t be made public until the middle of next month (June)

    An interesting and possibly worrying development but whether it is a deal breaker remains to be seen.

    Certainly a scoop for The Guardian that they have made public the Premier League having this WTO report in their possession BUT how much weight it carries remains to be seen.

    There is also obviously the fact that BeoutQ has since been removed from Arabsat and potentially, what commitments may or not have been made by the Saudis during this Premier League process, checking the Newcastle United takeover.

    What we do know 100% for sure, is that none of us will take it for granted that the takeover is happening, until we get final confirmation.

    The Guardian report:

    ‘While the WTO’s 130-page final report will not be published until mid-June, it is understood that the independent ruling firmly establishes that the Saudi government is behind beoutQ…a case against Saudi Arabia was taken to the WTO, the highest judicial body that could rule on the matter. It has now issued its ruling – finding that Saudi Arabia is in breach of international law as a result of beoutQ.

    The development will raise fundamental questions about whether Newcastle’s takeover – which would lead to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund taking an 80% stake in the club, with PCP Capital Partners and the property developers David and Simon Reuben taking 10% each – will pass the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test. That test can be failed if a crime is committed overseas that would also be one in the UK. It is also made clear to prospective owners that false, misleading or inaccurate information cannot be submitted to the Premier League.

    With Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, also the chairman of the Public Investment Fund, the WTO report establishes a clear legal link between the beoutQ piracy service and the Saudi state. However, that link is denied by the country as well as Newcastle’s prospective Saudi majority owners.

    Saudi Arabia had previously claimed beoutQ originated in Cuba and Colombia, prompting the governments of both countries to issue firm denials. It later emerged that beoutQ was being broadcast from the Arabsat satellite, which is majority-owned by the Saudi state and has its headquarters in the country.

    BeoutQ has since been removed from Arabsat. However, beoutQ illegal set-top boxes which allow the streaming of major broadcasters, including Sky and BT, are still widely available widely across the region. In January, Saudi Arabia was named in a European commission report for its failure to crack down on the platform. It also remains on a US government priority watch list as one of the “notorious markets for counterfeiting and piracy”.’


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