Newcastle takeover in doubt as WTO rules Saudi Arabia behind pirate channel

Newcastle United Could Make Takeover Announcement Within 48 Hours

Newcastle are now the subject of a reported £300 million (R6.4 billion) takeover bid backed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman that would make them the wealthiest club in England, ahead of current champions City, if it was completed. It all comes down to illegal pirating of the league's television coverage in Saudi Arabia through a company called beoutQ.

The Premier League have received the 123-page ruling from WTO which is "expected to be made public next month".

Newcastle takeover in serious doubt as WTO rules pirate TV channel is Saudi.

The WTO's report, which won't be released until June, finds a link between Saudi Arabian government and beoutQ, while also stating that the Premier League took legal action against the country, reports The Guardian.

Subsequently a case was taken to the WTO, the highest judicial body that can rule on the matter.

That test can be failed if owners were thought to be in violation of United Kingdom law, even if it was committed overseas.

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However, that link is denied by the country as well as Newcastle's prospective Saudi majority owners. Therefore it is a very complex process, and the Premier League is taking time to deliver the final verdict.

Saudi officials deny the allegations, but a U.S. government investigation previously found a link between the Saudi government and BeoutQ, and the USA has put Saudi on its watch list for "notorious markets for counterfeiting and piracy".

BeoutQ works through the set up of illegal receiver boxes that are widely available across the region which allow the streaming of major broadcasters.

Last year Liam Fox, then secretary of state at the Department for International Trade, in a letter to a colleague, said that he had contacted directly Saudi Arabia's minister for commerce and investment about the issue of Saudi piracy.

In January, Saudi Arabia was named in a European commission report for its failure to crack down on the platform. Recently, the president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, urged the Premier League to consider the damage that beoutQ's pirating of broadcasts had caused the sport before deciding on the Newcastle takeover.

Despite top-level football in England having of course been at a standstill since early in March following the outbreak of COVID-19, action has continued at a typically-frenetic pace behind the scenes at a number of Premier League clubs.

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