'It's as close to done as you get' – Newcastle United takeover talk with writers Miles Starforth & Liam Kennedy
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Miles Starforth and Liam Kennedy cut through the takeover noise with their analysis of the US media man’s £350million bid, as well as the relevance it has to where the Saudi consortium's deal stands at present. Also on the agenda is the WTO report and what our writers believe is the crux of the Premier League’s problem.
What is the significance of the Henry Mauriss bid?
LK: “The Saudi deal is almost as close to a done deal as you can get. I don't want to get anyone excited when I say that but the contracts are signed, deposits paid and the league are doing their checks. If, and it is still and if, the Premier League give the green light all that will remain is for the funds remaining to be paid.
“With that in mind, even if Henry Mauriss bids £500m for the football club, it makes absolutely no difference.”
MS: “There has been a degree of scepticism and cynicism on Tyneside at the news - and you can understand why.
“This bid would only come into play if, and it's still a big if, the Saudi deal falls through.”
How damaging was the WTO report to the Saudi bid for control?
LK: “I waded through the extensive report for around four hours. A lot of it was complicated legal talk but there were some key take aways.
“From my reading there were no explicit links to anyone linked with the takeover.
“We can speculate on this as we know the nature of the beast in Saudi - not a lot happens without the knowing or say so of the man at the top (MBS). This report did not say anything to that means, though.
“It didn't mention Newcastle, the takeover, nothing like that. Nor was it meant to.”
MS: “It is certainly damning when it comes to Saudi Arabia and the way it has tacked piracy within the country.
“Damaging for Saudi, but is it damaging for PIF? That is what it has come down to. Can they link piracy to the sovereign wealth fund?
“It certainly does not look like there is anything in there that would suggest the Premier League now have the justification to reject this outright.”
How can the Premier League solve the Saudi/Qatar & BeIN rights divide?
LK: “The real issue lies in the fact BeIN Sports is blocked in Saudi - and the Premier League will know they could see a rise in piracy in the country, not a reduction as they'd like, due to the the increased appetite a Saudi purchase of a Premier League will undoubtedly bring.
“BeIN Sports own the rights for the MENA area, that includes Saudi Arabia. How will the Premier League strike a deal to get their brand back shown legally in a country set to buy one of its football clubs? That could well be the crux of this.”
MS: “If the sovereign wealth fund of a country buys a club then the supporters from that country can't watch the games - that doesn't work.
This puts the Premier League in a very awkward position. You can imagine the back and forth. I'm sure the league are taking plenty of legal advice on this but it is all just very awkward.”