The proposed takeover of Newcastle United hit a major stumbling block on Tuesday when the Saudi Arabian government banned the Premier League’s official Middle East broadcaster.
This comes despite the fact the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund is trying to buy the Tyneside club.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman is part of the Newcastle takeover bid, but that may not happen now…
The Saudi government said that Qatari-based Premier League rights holder for the Middle East and North Africa region, beIN Sports, has had its licence cancelled and been fined £2.1million for ‘abusing its dominant position through several monopolistic practices’.
Top-flight English football in Saudi Arabia will not return until at least the 2022/23 season as beIN’s £400million deal will expire at the end of the 2021/22 season.
The proposed £300million takeover of the Magpies has been in the pipeline for the last three months, with Premier League lawyers assessing the move.
The league’s owners and directors’ test looks into the background of prospective club owners. The Times reports that the Premier League have declined to comment.
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In response to the ban, beIN said: “The decision is nonsensical on every single level, banning beIN for packaging its rights in the standard way that sports and entertainment broadcasters all around the world would do, and indeed as other broadcaster active in the Saudi market also do.
“The very idea that permanently banning a leading competitor from a market could in any way promote competition is plainly absurd. We would also question, as we have for three years, how Saudi citizens can watch Premier League matches legally in Saudi Arabia with this permanent ban on the Premier Leagues licensed broadcaster.”
A report released by the World Trade Organisation said that the Saudi state had facilitated the operations of pirate broadcasting network, beoutQ, which had illegally broadcast sports that beIN and other companies had legitimate rights to.
The Premier League declined to comment on the news that Saudi Arabia have effectively banned one of their rights holders on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce earlier said: “We all need one thing, we need clarity on the takeover.
“Is it happening or is it not, its something I and everybody out there wants to know. We need that decision. If so then we will move from there. If not, its got to be, Lets plan as best we possibly can and get on with the job at hand.
Newcastle are still owned by Mike Ashley, who put the club up for sale for a second time in October 2017