Shock beIN Sports development raises Newcastle United takeover hopes ahead of arbitration

Saudi Arabia ready to lift its ban on a Qatari broadcaster in a move which could have implications for a proposed Newcastle United takeover.

The Gulf kingdom has blocked the signal of beIN Sports, the Premier League’s rights-holder for the Middle East North Africa region, for several years. However, it’s been reported that the Doha-based broadcaster’s programming could be unblocked “in the coming weeks”.

BeIN Sports objected to a Saudi Arabia-backed £300million takeover of Newcastle last year – and this “lobbying” was highlighted in a Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) hearing last week by a QC representing Mike Ashley’s St James Holdings.

"At the time Premier League was reaching its decision, beIN was in the midst of negotiations with Premier League for another three-year rights deal,” said Daniel Jowell QC at a jurisdiction hearing.

"It was very publicly reported at the time that beIN media group actively lobbied the Premier League against the takeover of Newcastle."

According to BNN Bloomberg, beIN Sports “would no longer object to a takeover” if their ban is lifted.

However, the main issue obstacle to the takeover being resurrected remains the separation between the Saudi state (KSA) and the Public Investment Fund, its sovereign wealth fund. The Premier League and Newcastle are preparing for a week-long arbitration hearing, which is set to start on January 3.

Premier League QC Adam Lewis said at the CAT hearing: “If the arbitration decides KSA is not a director, then the transaction can and will go ahead, with no question of the Owners’ and Directors’ Test being applied to KSA.”


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