*A guest post from @Tft_Gallowgate‘s Carl Richardson on the ongoing piracy issue surrounding a potential Saudi-backed takeover*
During this whole Newcastle Takeover saga, one issue continues to rise its head, and that is the issue of piracy within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, specifically through BeoutQ and its issues with Qatar based beIN sport.
These issues are not solely limited to the takeover and go back years instead of months. However, with it being forefront in many reports on the takeover, it is understandably getting a lot of people worried, especially with the Guardian article on Tuesday on the World Trade Organisations (WTO) 130+ page report sent to the Premier League at the beginning of the month.
The issues between Saudi and Qatar are well documented, to the point that borders were blocked between the two countries over alleged terrorism ties between Qatar and Iran. But what has that got to do with the Takeover? Well it all stems from the timing of BeoutQ starting.
Shortly after Saudi essentially cut all ties with Qatar, it then refused to stream Qatari run beIN Sports, which is the sports arm of Al Jazeera news channel, on its satellite feeds. A matter of days later BeoutQ appeared streaming at first on the internet as an IPTV, then eventually on Arabsat.
BeoutQ would stream content normally seen on beIN, including their live football streams, where at first the BeoutQ logo would be fit on top of beIN’s Digital on-screen graphic. This led to a feature/Documentary type report being run by Al Jazeera, which would link BeoutQ to a Saudi native Dt Raed Khusheim. Dr Khusheim ran a TV station out of the UAE called Selevision, and it was through this Al Jazeera argued that BeoutQ was being ran. This would then lead to a court case in the region, where beIN would lose and be ordered to pay Dr Khusheim $7 million in damages.
While all this was happening beIN legally held the rights for top level competition, including both the Men’s and Women’s World Cup, Champions League, top European leagues, and rights to leagues within the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. This meant essentially that beIN held the television rights to the Asian Champions League, which included Saudi teams.
Because Saudi had banned all feeds from beIN and connected stations, something the UAE also did albeit for a month, it meant that residents of Saudi Arabia could not legally watch their own countries football. There were plans between Saudi and Egypt to have a station based in Cairo called PBS, to get around this, but that never got off the ground.
But the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) took matters into their own hands and planned to show games involving Saudi teams via live stream on their own YouTube channel, something that did not please beIN, as in their view had legally bought those rights from AFC. These matters seemed to have disappeared, from what I can tell in the bits of research I have done.
It is important to note that during this time BeoutQ were not just using beIN feeds, but were also using an Arabic feed from Israel and a Spanish feed from Mexico. Which I can only assume were in partnership, or at least no issues raised, as nothing I can find was brought against BeoutQ on these streams. This seems to be the moment that beIN turned their attentions to Arabsat, by this point BeoutQ were streaming on the provider, and with Arabsat being available in some French Territories.
This brings us up to the moment we are all aware of, beIN’s requests being rejected by the French courts, as although they confirmed BeoutQ was no doubt a case of piracy, there was no connection to Arabsat, and again beIN were ordered to pay cost’s and a small amount of compensation.
It is important to note that throughout all of this I have been unable to find a link between BeoutQ and PIF and Mohammed Bin Salman, which is obviously good news for the Newcastle Takeover, with no link they cannot be guilty of piracy.
In my opinion, and it is just that my opinion, beIN took a lot of losses. Losses to streams, and losses in court. It seems a case to me that they don’t know who to blame, and the report by the WTO was asked to be started in 2018.
This is a last gasp attempt to get the Premier League to find out something no one has been able to do for three years. If the WTO report can, and that’s a big IF, link PIF and anyone on the Owners and Directors test to BeoutQ then it is an issue, but it doesn’t seem to me that it will, and is still a case of when not if!
Hope this helps.