Saudi Arabia make surprise move ahead of Newcastle United takeover decision
BeIN Sports has had its licence to broadcast in Saudi Arabia permanently cancelled.
The country’s General Authority for Competition (GAC) also today said in a statement that the Qatar-based broadcaster was being fined for “abusing its dominant position” through “monopolistic practices”.
BeIN Sports had objected to the proposed takeover of Newcastle United in April on the grounds of TV piracy in Saudi Arabia.
The £300million deal is being 80% funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, and the Premier League, which has had to consider the issue of the illegal streaming of sporting events in the kingdom, is yet to make a decision.
The World Trade Organisation last month drew a link between “individuals or entities” under the jurisdiction the Saudi state and beoutQ, a pirate TV station which has illegally broadcast Premier League games in the kingdom.
BeIN Sports first had its signal blocked in Saudi Arabia in 2017, and the takeover has pitched Newcastle into the geopolitical dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The broadcaster reacted by labelling the GAC decision to revoke its broadcast licence as “nonsensical”.
A beIN Sports statement read: “We would also question – as we have for three years – how Saudi citizens can watch Premier League matches legally in Saudi Arabia with this 'permanent' ban on the Premier League's licensed broadcaster.”
It is not clear what ramifications, if any, the GAC decision will have for the long-running takeover process.