There’s news today that may impact the acquisition of Newcastle United by the Amanda Staveley led coalition.
The Saudi Arabia General Authority for Competition (GAC) have “permanently terminated” beIN Sports’ license to any future broadcasting in Saudi Arabia.
They have also fined the sports channel 10M million riyals (£2.1M with today’s exchange rate – peanuts) and say it’s because the Qatar sports channel has violated Saudi competition law.
Here is a piece from the Guardian (Louise Taylor) on the surprise news this monring:
“The Saudi Arabian government permanently barred the Premier League’s Qatar-based Middle East broadcast partner from operating in the kingdom.”
“beIN’s £500M deal with the Premier League runs until 2022 and there is now no legal way for anyone in Saudi Arabia to watch England’s top tier till then.”
There is bad blood between the two kingdoms, and the Premier League games are not available to be watched in Saudi Arabia and have been illegal in Saudi Arabia for three years.
That’s one reason that Saudi-based channel beoutQ has been pirating the beIN Sports live broadcasts.
They have included the Premier League games.
But we shouldn’t have to get into the politics of all of this.
It’s nevertheless a surprise move in the week when beIN Sports pundit Richard Keys has predicted the takeover of Newcastle by Amanda Staveley’s coalition will be given the go-ahead by the Premier League on Friday.
This move seems to complicate things, and it’s not completely clear why Saudi Arabia have made this move.
It may be something they are doing to break the monopoly beIN Sports has in the region on sports, and it’s before the announcement that the Newcastle acquisition will be approved.
There’s hope in that statement!
But it may also be positioning the government to legally get PL games in the future because they will 80% funding the Newcastle United acquisition.
The £300M deal is 80% funded by the Saudi Sovereign Wealth fund and has been in the PL’s owners and directors test since April 9th, – that’s 14 weeks tomorrow!
Saudi Crown Prince – Mohammed bin Salman
It’s thought that the Kingdom is trying to break up the monopoly beIN Sports has in the region, and the GAC say the channel have “abused its dominant position.”
beIN Sports are the current rights holder in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region for Premier League football for the next two years.
So this may be positioning Saudi Arabia to get the Premier League rights when they come up for auction next year and the subsequent three-year license, which will begin in 2022.
Bidding for those rights is due to start next year.
It will be vital for Saudi Arabia to be able to broadcast PL games in the future when one of the best teams in that league – Newcastle United – is 80% owned by the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund.
It’s a little daft that we have to go into this level of detail on what is purely a political move because it may have some bearing on the Newcastle takeover.
But we still think the Saudi-backed deal will go through and maybe Richard Keys will be accurate, for once, when he says it will be announced on Friday.