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Newcastle’s £300m Saudi-led takeover faces more opposition from beIN Sports

English football’s biggest overseas broadcast partner beIN Sports have urged the Premier League to block Newcastle’s proposed £300million takeover from the Saudi Arabia-led consortium.

Newcastle are on the verge of a huge takeover with the £300m deal now in the hands of the Premier League after owner Mike Ashley reached an agreement with a consortium backed by funds from Saudi Arabia‘s Public Investment Fund – controlled by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The proposed takeover has already faced a challenge from Amnesty International, who wrote to the Premier League urging it to consider Saudi Arabia’s human rights record before signing off on the deal.

Newcastle are on the verge of a £300m takeover, led by the Saudi Public Investment Fund

Newcastle are on the verge of a £300m takeover, led by the Saudi Public Investment Fund

Newcastle are on the verge of a £300m takeover, led by the Saudi Public Investment Fund

And in a letter seen by the Times, beIN Sports have also written to the Premier League and its 20 clubs calling on them to block the takeover.

The broadcast giants have warned the Premier League that Saudi Arabia’s involvement in piracy of matches threatens the future prosperity of the English top-flight.

The Qatari-based beIN Sports have also reportedly highlighted the Premier League’s unsuccessful attempts to take legal action against the state-owned satellite provider, Arabsat, in Saudi Arabia.

Arabsat sends out Premier League fixtures on the pirate channel beoutQ. 

Chief executive of beIN media group, Yousef Al-Obaidly, wrote in the letters: ‘The danger of allowing the acquisition of a controlling or material interest (whether acquired directly or indirectly) in a major Premier League club by what is effectively the Saudi Arabian government cannot be ignored given the country’s past and continuing illegal actions and their direct impact upon the commercial interests of the Premier League, its member clubs, its broadcast partners and football in general.

Mike Ashley's ownership of the St James' Park outfit could very soon be coming to an end

Mike Ashley's ownership of the St James' Park outfit could very soon be coming to an end

Mike Ashley’s ownership of the St James’ Park outfit could very soon be coming to an end

‘As a longstanding partner and huge investor in the Premier League, we urge you to consider carefully all the implications of doing so.’

To get their point across even further, beIN Sports have also sent a letter to Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive.    

The pressure from beIN Sports comes after Amnesty International warned the Premier League that it ‘risks becoming a patsy’ if it allows the takeover to go ahead.

In a letter to Masters, Amnesty UK director Kate Allen said: ‘I believe there are serious questions to address in determining whether the owners and directors of the company seeking to acquire NUFC are meeting standards that can protect the reputation and image of the game.

‘If the Crown Prince, by virtue of his authority over Saudi Arabia’s economic relations and via control of his country’s sovereign wealth fund, becomes the beneficial owner of NUFC, how can this be positive for the reputation and image of the Premier League?

The Premier League have been urged to block the takeover by Qatari-based beIN Sports

The Premier League have been urged to block the takeover by Qatari-based beIN Sports

The Premier League have been urged to block the takeover by Qatari-based beIN Sports

‘So long as these questions (concerning Saudi Arabia’s human rights record) remain unaddressed, the Premier League is putting itself at risk of becoming a patsy of those who want to use the glamour and prestige of Premier League football to cover up actions that are deeply immoral, in breach of international law and at odds with the values of the Premier League and the global footballing community.’

Sources close to the deal say they anticipate no issues with the League’s owners and directors test, with approval expected within the next three weeks. 

Should all go ahead as planned, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund will become the new majority owners at St James’ Park, holding 80 per cent of the club along with 10 per cent splits for financier Amanda Staveley and property tycoons David and Simon Reuben.

Yasir Al-Rumayyan will become Newcastle’s new chairman if the deal is completed.

 

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