A hectic 24 hours has unfolded in the NUFC takeover saga, with reports emerging that Saudi Arabia have blocked beIN Sports from being allowed to show Premier League games in their country.
This move comes after Richard Keys’ announced on Monday that the deal was to be given the green light by the Premier League ‘any day now’ and announced by Friday.
It also follows positive noises from The Mail’s Craig Hope, who reported earlier yesterday that sources close to the Premier League claim there’s now an ‘expectation’ that the deal will be approved, and soon, however it remains to be seen how this new development involving Saudi and beIN will impact matters.
BeIN Sports acquired the rights to show Premier League fixtures in the Middle East until 2022 with a deal worth a reported £500million, but the veto from the Saudi government means that nobody in the country can now watch games from the English top flight – something which doesn’t quite add up if they are A) about to buy a club in that league and B) abolish all piracy and watch games legally.
Many media outlets are drawing two possible conclusions from this move. Either Saudi Arabia have ‘chucked their toys out the pram’ about the length it has taken to secure the purchase of our club, or they are simply following steps set by the Premier League for them to secure their own deal in their home country.
Many journalists and media outlets are drawing two possible conclusions from this move. Either Saudi Arabia have ‘chucked their toys out the pram’ about the length it has taken to secure the purchase of our club, or they are simply following steps set by the Premier League for them to secure their own deal in their home country. The latter is something many have predicted, feeling they were always going to compete with beIN for the £500m PL package as soon as BeoutQ was stopped, but beIN’s current deal doesn’t expire until 2022..
BeIN have responded by calling the decision “nonsensical” and say it has been arrived via a “sham”of legal proceedings, with them now understandably questioning how Saudi citizens can now legally watch Premier League football in the country:
“The decision is nonsensical on every single level, banning beIN for packaging its rights in the standard way that sports and entertainment broadcasters all around the world do, and indeed as other broadcasters active in the Saudi market also do.
“Moreover, the very idea that permanently banning a leading competitor from a market could in any way promote competition is plainly absurd.
“We would also question – as we have for three years – how Saudi citizens can watch Premier League matches legally in Saudi Arabia with this ‘permanent’ ban on the Premier League’s licensed broadcaster. Or indeed how Saudi citizens can legally watch most major international sport, and how this fits into Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Vision.”
An article by Shields Gazette’s Liam Kennedy that summarised the conflict explained that the Saudis want Premier League games to be shown by Saudi TV, and not by Qatar backed beIN Sports.
It appears that we have landed ourselves truly in the centre of a political storm between two middle-eastern nations, with both desperate to score points on the other.
This multi-billion pound game of tit-for-tat does nothing but disrupt the Geordie faithful even more, with none of us deserving to be embroiled in a battle between Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Various reports list this as purely a sideshow between the two countries, that has no effect on our impending takeover, something that we should all hope is true – especially when a few reports (The Mail and The Guardian) suggest this latest fallout *should* have no bearing on the final decision and is simply unfortunate timing.
Richard Masters himself said over 10 days ago that he wishes for this saga to be concluded ‘soon’, and it certainly feels as though we are reaching the endgame of this never ending saga.
The sooner this ends the better, either positively or negatively. I think the Toon Army are now reaching the point where we’d rather just know one way or another!