The Premier League’s largest overseas broadcasting partner has written to the top flight and all 20 clubs urging them to block the potential takeover of Newcastle United.
The Magpies’ proposed takeover moved a step closer last week after Mike Ashley entered into a £300m agreement with a consortium led by American businesswoman Amanda Staveley, and backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, who will bankroll the operation and own 80% of the club.
However, in a blow to Newcastle, The Times has revealed Qatar-based television channel beIN has asked the Premier League to block the potential takeover, accusing Saudi Arabia of playing their part in pirate broadcasts of matches.
Yousef al-Obaidly, the chief executive of beIN, wrote to the chairmen of Premier League clubs saying: “The potential acquirer of Newcastle United [has] caused huge damage to your club’s and the Premier League’s commercial revenues.
“The legacy of the illegal service will continue to impact you going forward,” the letter said.
“When the Premier League season re-commences in the coming months, all of the league’s broadcasters’ content will continue to be readily and illegally available via the IPTV streaming functionality on the beoutQ set-top-boxes which were sold in significant quantities in Saudi Arabia and the broader MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region.
“Furthermore, given the crippling economic effect that coronavirus is having on the sports industry, this is all happening at a time when football clubs need to protect their broadcast revenue the most.”
Al-Obaidly also wrote to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters to fully scrutinise Newcastle’s prospective new owners, including their Saudi backers.