Saudi plans Premier League broadcasting bid amid Newcastle controversy
Saudi Arabia is planning to bid for the rights to broadcast Premier League games in the Middle East and North Africa after the kingdom’s attempt to take over the English football club Newcastle United was put into doubt on Tuesday.
The UK newspaper The Mirror reported that the rights to broadcast Premier League TV matches in the MENA region will be renegotiated next year, ahead of the 2022 expiry of a three-year contract giving Qatari broadcaster beIN sports the broadcasting rights.
The Saudis believe that they can outbid Qatar for the rights in the negotiating process according to The Mirror.
On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s takeover of Newcastle United was cast into doubt after the World Trade Organization found that Saudi Arabia was behind illegal broadcasts of Premier League matches by the beoutQ pirate streaming service.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) was set to acquire an 80 percent share in Newcastle United as part of a £300 million takeover bid.
A number of football leagues and organisations including the Premier League and FIFA had previously attempted to take legal action against Saudi-based beoutQ for its illegal broadcasts of matches, before the case was referred to WTO.
BeIN sports had also asked for Saudi Arabia’s takeover of Newcastle United to be blocked because of the illegal beoutQ broadcasts.
Saudi Arabia believes that it still can complete its takeover of Newcastle United, according to The Mirror but the Premier League is now in a difficult position, having previously given evidence to the WTO against Saudi Arabia regarding the beoutQ streaming.
Amnesty International has also written to the Premier League expressing concern over the Saudi takeover of Newcastle United, given Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and imprisonment of dissidents and human rights activists.