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19 Jun, 2020 11:09

'This is an insult': Saudi-led takeover of Premier League club Newcastle United must be BLOCKED, says UK politician

'This is an insult': Saudi-led takeover of Premier League club Newcastle United must be BLOCKED, says UK politician

A Saudi-backed takeover of Premier League club Newcastle United must be delayed until the UK government fully investigates the country's relationship with alleged illegal broadcaster beoutQ, according to UK MP Angus MacNeil.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) announced findings this week in which they determined that Saudi Arabia was complicit in breaching international privacy laws in their relationship with beoutQ, which has been accused of illegally broadcasting content – including the Premier League – threatening the months-long takeover bid. 

Angus MacNeil, chairman of the International Trade Select Committee, has voiced his concerns regarding the potential deal to trade secretary Liz Truss in which he says that Saudi backing of the beoutQ network "should not be tolerated."

"As you would have seen, the WTO has made a landmark ruling on the protection of sports rights, which is one of the UK's most valuable and treasured exports," MacNeil wrote.

"In its ruling, the WTO held that the government of Saudi Arabia has, from the beginning, been actively... supporting the 'beoutQ' piracy operation that has stolen the commercial rights of UK sports bodies for three years."

Also on rt.com Saudis' $380 million Newcastle takeover faces YET MORE potential problems after WTO piracy report

The Qatar-based beIN Sports currently holds exclusive rights to broadcast Premier League content as part of a three-year, £400 million ($495 million) deal.

The Saudi government, meanwhile, has stated that there is no link between the country and beoutQ. However, they have blocked separate legal proceedings brought forward by the Premier League, FIFA, UEFA, La Liga and the Bundesliga in relation to the broadcasting of pirated content.

"This is an insult to the UK government, affront to the Premier League, and abuse of UK sport – and should not be tolerated," MacNeill continued.

"This is relevant today, right now, because the very entity that has been stealing premium UK sports and entertainment content is attempting to buy a major UK sporting institution – Newcastle United Football Club.

"Quite simply, if Saudi Arabia is unwilling to play by the rules of international law, then it should have no role in the future of UK sport."

Also on rt.com Saudi shake-up: How the Newcastle takeover will send shockwaves through football

The proposed £300 million ($371 million) takeover is understood to be 80% funded by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The deal is currently being looked at through the prism of the Premier League's owners and directors test, which is to determine whether or not any new prospective owners have been involved in illegal activity.