The reporting over the pending takeover has become an echo chamber in recent weeks. There seems to be a new stumbling block reached every 48 hours, before a different journalist states that the buying consortium remain confident with ‘no red flags’ reported by the Premier League.
For supporters following proceedings closely, it has become a monotonous task as our club has been pulled right into the centre of a geopolitical war. The battle ground centring on the piracy of Premier League broadcasting rights, rather than the human rights issue that will concern many in this country.
The Athletic have produced an excellent article detailing the piracy issue that is holding up the deal, with detail to support the basic headline being reported elsewhere. Matt Slater writes in his piece:
‘The Premier League cannot see a way to sanction the deal without Saudi Arabia unblocking beIN Sports, shutting down beoutQ and opening up its courts.’
Although a variety of media outlets report that confidence remains on the buying side, this is an issue that could drag on for weeks yet. The WTO are set to release a report on the piracy case brought by beIN Sports imminently, with the contents of this crucial to the takeover and what is to follow.
The reading of the above report suggests that the Premier League are unwilling to approve the takeover until the piracy issue is resolved. Richard Masters will see this as his best opportunity to put an end to beoutQ, with the league having significant leverage over Saudi Arabia for the first time.
There could be reason to reject this takeover from happening, but this would be a nuclear option. If they did this, they would sour relations with the Saudi government, which could increase piracy and remove a possible future revenue stream.
However, by working with the buying consortium, they could eradicate piracy. This would please their current broadcast partner beIN and increase the chance of Saudi Arabia coming into the bidding for future contracts. As Matt Slater alludes to in his report, competition is better than theft.
This is the most complicated takeover deal in Premier League history, which explains the delay. A resolution seems a long way away, even at this stage.
The Premier League have an opportunity to solve a piracy crisis that has been ongoing for years and they can make Saudi Arabia one of their partners in the process. Richard Masters has seen the consortium’s plans for Newcastle United as part of the Owners and Directors Test. He will know the potential positive impact that this could have on his product, but this is the stage that he can negotiate to get a win for him and one of the league’s partners.
For that reason, this could drag on for a little while yet and that is okay. It is reassuring that the Premier League is getting its house in order and ensuring everything is correct before approving this takeover.
In the meantime, the Premier League is returning to play in the next two weeks and supporters will have something else to focus on. The takeover has become excruciating to follow, but it will take as long as it takes.