Newcastle takeover thrown into further doubt over second piracy storm


Newcastle’s proposed takeover bid has hit its latest obstacle in a fresh disagreement over piracy.

The consortium behind the bid are still awaiting a decision from the Premier League over whether they can take the reins at St James’ Park.

But while the Premier League consider the suitability of the club’s prospective new owners, the FA are now taking action against Saudi-backed TV channel KSA Sports.

The state-supported broadcasters are being accused of illegally streaming historic FA Cup footage involving Newcastle.

As reported by The Times, KSA Sports have now been asked to remove the footage from their channels in a letter sent direct from the FA’s headquarters, which also copied in the Premier League and the Saudi Arabian government.

Mohammed Bin Salman's Newcastle takeover bid faces a fresh obstacle
Mohammed Bin Salman’s Newcastle takeover bid faces a fresh obstacle

The letter read: “It has come to our attention that KSA Sports is engaged in the unauthorised and illegal broadcast of extracts from the matches (amongst other sports content) in the territory of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“As you have neither sought nor obtained permission from the FA or any of its authorised licensees to use this content on your channels, your present use is an infringement of the FA’s rights.

“Broadcast piracy is a significant concern for all rights holders and content providers and failure to promptly take affirmative steps will cause significant financial and reputational harm to us.”

This poses a particular problem to Newcastle, given Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is spearheading the takeover consortium.

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The £300million bid has received widespread criticism already due to Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record.

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This is in addition to an extensive report by the World Trade Organisation which claims to prove Saudi Arabia is behind the illegal streaming of Premier League fixtures in the country.

The Saudi Arabia public investment fund is yet to pass the fit and proper persons test being carried out by the Premier League.

A decision is still to be made, but the FA’s letter will not support the consortium’s cause.

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