This will be a welcome distraction for Newcastle United fans
A week tomorrow, Newcastle United will restart their season. That much, we know.
The Premier League’s complex and challenging restart plan, up to now, has gone to plan, and the club will take on Sheffield United at an empty St James’s Park next weekend.
What we don’t know is whether United will be under new ownership anytime soon, despite a £300million deal having been agreed two months ago.
It was a process that the buyers hoped would take just a few weeks. That hope proved excessively optimistic given the issues, legal and moral, that the proposed ownership structure raised.
Newcastle, under the deal, will be 80% owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the chairman of which is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
United, and the Premier League, have seemingly been dragged into a geopolitical dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which is the home of beIN Sports.
The broadcaster and rights-holder has objected to the deal on the grounds of the piracy of English games in the kingdom.
This, they argue, has cost them hundreds of millions of pounds in lost revenue. The Premier League has attempted to litigate against pirate broadcaster beoutQ without success in the past, and the takeover has presented it with an opportunity to resolve the issue once and for all, and, potentially, bring the Saudis to the table for the next round of bidding.
At least the imminent return of football will provide a welcome distraction for fans who are now tiring of this seemingly endless saga.