Newcastle takeover faces delay over BeoutQ piracy claims & Saudi Al-Waleed bin Talal linked with buying Marseille

Newcastle takeover faces delay over BeoutQ piracy claims

And still Newcastle United fans wait…

Last week we reported on the updates circling around the UK media that this week was primed to be the one when the Newcastle United takeover completes.

As everyone now knows, the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund are set to buy Newcastle from Mike Ashely for 300 million pounds.

The Saudis are set to acquire an 80% stake in Newcastle, while Amanda Staveley and the Reuben brothers are each set to own 10% of the club.

However, the timetable for the Newcastle takeover is now looking at a delay.

As revealed by the Guardian, fresh evidence has now been provided to the Premier League indicating that the Saudis have been running pirate broadcasting company BeoutQ, who air Premier League matches in the Gulf without any legal rights:

Premier League lawyers are understood to be reviewing information which is said to establish a firm link between the Saudi government and a homegrown pirate TV and streaming service which offers illegal access to sporting events – including English football, Wimbledon and the Six Nations – on the BeoutQ platform.

Newcastle’s prospective Saudi majority owners have denied any link to the BeoutQ piracy. The Premier League’s test says applicants must not provide “false, misleading or inaccurate information”.

The suggestion is that if the Saudis are found to have been lying about their relationship to BeoutQ, then the Premier League may deny the takeover deal.

Whether that actually happens, however, feels remote at this time.


What does this say about the ‘human rights’ argument against the Saudi, Newcastle takeover?

There are two lines of attack against the proposed Saudi takeover at St James’ Park.

As mentioned above, there’s the claim that the deal should be voided as the Saudi’s have breached Premier League broadcasting rights through BeoutQ.

However, others have tried to argue that Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is so awful that they shouldn’t be allowed entry into the Premier League’s ownership club.

Hatice Cengiz, who is the fiancee of murdered Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has been leading this second line of opposition.

However, the sense this Tuesday is that these commercial and financial BeoutQ issues are far more problematic for the Saudis than any questions concerning their human rights record.


Will there be a Saudi takeover at Marseille?

One issue which has been raised regarding the possible Newcastle takeover is how this deal would impact Sheffield United.

Sheffield United are owned by Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad. He is the cousin of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), and a junior member of the Saudi royal family.

Considering how powerful MBS is, some have previously tried to suggest that, if the Newcastle deal goes ahead, the Toon would be able to influence decisions at Bramall Lane.

Leaving those specific Sheffield United issues to one side, could Newcastle also exert future influence over Marseille?

That possibility has been raised in recent days after claims that Saudi billionaire businessman Al-Waleed bin Talal is in talks about buying Marseille.

Italian outlet Tutto Mercato Web reported last weekend that Al-Waleed bin Talal could buy OM from American owner Frank McCourt for 250 million euros.

For what it’s worth, representatives of McCourt told La Provence that no discussions are happening: “Nothing has changed: the blue and white home is not for sale.”


Does future Newcastle owner Mohammed bin Salman want Al-Waleed bin Talal to buy Marseille? And why?

According to Georges Malbrunot, who is the Middle East reporter for Italian paper Le Figaro, an unnamed French businessman in the Gulf has confirmed that the Al-Waleed bin Talal-Marseille story has legs.

As background, Marseille and Newcastle fans should know that back in 2017-18, Al-Waleed bin Talal was effectively jailed by Mohammed bin Salman at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh.

On January 27, 2018, the BBC reported:

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has been released after months at Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, his family say.

He, and several other billionaires and princes, were originally detained as part of the kingdom’s crackdown on corruption.

As described by Wikipedia, this whole episode took part in the ‘2017–19 Saudi Arabian purge’ as MBS consolidated his power in The Kingdom.

Returning to the present, Georges Malbrunot claimed that MBS is “not opposed” to Al-Waleed bin Talal’s attempts to buy OM. Quoting his source in the Gulf, Georges Malbrunot has posted the following on Twitter:

Al-Waleed, with OM, is playing his businessman card. It is the only one he has left since he was put into the Ritz by the Crown Prince.

MBS has a man who controls the activities of the Bin Talal group.

MBS took $6 billion out of the 19 (bin Talal) had (when he was released from the Ritz).

Al-Waleed is under control.

(Al-Waleed) was only able to present a buyout dossier for the football club (after approval) from MBS.

Al-Waleed can only play the businessmen card if he wants to exist.

If he buys OM, between press and TV, he will again be present in the newspapers. It would be a good deal for him, the club is picking up.

On the other hand, he falls into a trap, he risks being wrung out afterwards.


Also see: Best Netflix, Amazon & YouTube football documentaries & movies to watch during coronavirus isolation

9 best football documentaries to watch on ESPN+ during COVID-19 quarantine

This article was edited by Benjamin Newman.

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