Saudi Arabia Plan Premier League Broadcast Rights Bid to Get Newcastle Takeover Across the Line

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    Saudi Arabia are plotting to bid for the Premier League broadcasting rights in order to calm the piracy streaming concerns that have delayed their Newcastle United takeover.

    Newcastle are currently in the midst of a proposed £300m takeover, fronted by business woman and Newcastle supporter Amanda Staveley, and funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).

    The proposed takeover would see PIF take an 80% stake in the club, while Staveley and billionaire brothers David and Simon Reuben would both have a 10% stake.

    Amanda Staveley
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    The takeover had been edging closer to completion, with the papers submitted to the Premier League and the owners currently the subject of the owners’ and directors’ test.

    This has stalled in recent weeks after papers emerged linking the Saudi government to a pirate streaming platform that illegally broadcasts Premier League games.

    The BeoutQ platform bypasses the broadcast rights owned by beIN Sports.

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    If the paperwork proves a link between the Saudi government and BeoutQ, this could be enough to fail the owners’ and directors’ test.

    According to the Mirror, the Saudis could jump this hurdle by bidding for the next broadcasting contract.

    beIN Sports’ £500m, three-year contract for the Middle East and North Africa broadcast deal expires in 2022, with the deal to be renegotiated next year.

    The Saudis could have the financial backing to outbid their Qatar-based rival beIN Sports.

    Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley
    Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

    By opening up new commercial opportunities for the Premier League, a potential Saudi broadcast deal could see the takeover given the green light.

    The proposed takeover – which would see Mike Ashley’s 13-year reign at St. James’ Park come to an end – has not been without controversy, with Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, the country’s links to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and suggestions that the takeover would be a form of sports washing.

    Fellow top flight sides have voiced their concerns, but these primarily regard their own commercial interests regarding the Saudis to an illegal streaming platform.

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