PIF consider shock investment in company that tried to block Newcastle United takeover
The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) are reportedly considering an investment in Qatari-owned BeIN Sports, according to Bloomberg.
This comes just over a year after Saudi Arabia sensationally ended its four-year ban on the sports broadcaster, shortly before the takeover of Newcastle United was completed.
Amid piracy concerns, BeIN Sports were accused of ‘lobbying’ Premier League clubs against PIF’s bid for Newcastle at a Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) hearing last Autumn.
But this issue was later resolved and BeIN, who are the Premier League’s rights-holder for the Middle East North Africa region, had no objections.
Although it was initially believed that the resolution of the piracy issue was a key factor in the Saudi-led takeover being approved by the Premier League last October, the official line is that the takeover was passed as assurances were given that Newcastle would not be controlled by the Saudi state.
A year on, PIF considering bidding for a company that the Saudi state had previously banned, comes as a shock.
And Conrad Wiacek, head of sport analysis at GlobalData, a leading analytics company believes the move is a ‘statement of intent’ from Newcastle’s owners.
“Having lifted the ban on BeIN Sports, the news that the PIF is looking to partner with the Qatari broadcaster is not only a shock, but also represents a significant statement of intent from the Kingdom, given the growth in its sporting footprint in recent years,” he said.
"From the takeover of Newcastle United to hosting major events such as boxing and F1 races, this acquisition suggests that rumoured bids for the World Cup and Olympics in 2030 and 2036 may not be complete pipedreams.
“Furthermore, it represents a serious geopolitical shift and a thawing of relations between the two countries.
"Having attempted to undermine BeIN Sports through the pirate BeoutQ platform, which the government strenuously denied, as well as banning BeIN Sports from broadcasting in Saudi Arabia, this reconciliation ahead of the upcoming World Cup would immediately realign the sports rights market and mark BeIN Sports as a major global player for centralised sports rights such as the Olympic Games when those are renewed in Europe in 2024.”