Saudis to work out peace deal with Qatar in bid to save Toon takeover

Saudi Arabia to work out peace deal with Qatar in bid to save Newcastle takeover from collapsing after broadcaster BeIN Sports threatened to derail the £300m deal over claims of TV piracy

  • Saudi Arabia is set to work out a peace deal over TV rights with Qatar 
  • BeIN Sports threatened to derail Saudi’s £300m Toon deal over TV piracy claims
  • Saudi wealth fund hope their political efforts will help get the deal over the line 

Saudi Arabia is set to work out a peace deal over TV rights with Qatar amid fears the row could scupper the takeover of Newcastle.

Sources close to negotiations have told The Mail on Sunday that the Saudi wealth fund bidding for the club have pledged to use their influence in government to open talks between the two nations after Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports threatened to derail the £300million deal over claims of TV piracy.

The station complained that a pirate operator in Saudi Arabia has infringed their commercial rights by simulcasting their stream to broadcast to homes throughout the Kingdom. 

The Saudi wealth fund, led by Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan (pictured), bidding for the club have pledged to have peace talks over TV rights with Qatar

They allege the pirate operator, beoutQ, is sponsored by the Saudi state and has stolen football rights worth £500million. 

BeIN were banned from operating in Saudi Arabia after the country instituted an economic blockade of Qatar over accusations that it sponsors terrorism.

BeIN protested to the Premier League when officials started to look at whether to allow the takeover of the club by the consortium, which comprises the Saudi Public Investment Fund, City financier Amanda Staveley and billionaire property moguls the Reuben brothers.

The consortium say they are not behind the piracy and cannot control the network of set-top boxes run by beoutQ but now they have started lobbying government ministers to seek a resolution. 

The Premier League have been urged to block the takeover by Qatari-based beIN Sports

It is not yet known how broad any resolution will be, but it is hoped a deal will help citizens of both countries access football matches.

The consortium hope their political efforts will help get the Newcastle deal over the line. All parties have now responded to questions from the Premier League as part of the owners’ and directors’ tests and are awaiting the completion of the checks due within weeks.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates all hit Qatar with an economic and diplomatic embargo in June 2017 over claims the state supports terrorism, a charge it strongly denies.

The Gulf nations banned their citizens from travelling to or living in Qatar and gave Qatari citizens 14 days to leave their territories.

The blockade has restricted businesses on both sides, including Newcastle’s prospective buyers, who were banned from working on the deal with any bankers, advisers or lawyers known to do business with Qatar.

The Premier League have tried and failed on nine occasions to bring legal action against beoutQ. They have also asked the United States government to keep Saudi Arabia on its piracy watchlist before starting their checks on the Newcastle takeover.

Mike Ashley’s ownership of the St James’ Park outfit could very soon be coming to an end

The deal was recently thrown into doubt when it was reported that the Premier League had received a World Trade Organisation dossier stating the Saudis are behind the illegal streaming of sports by beoutQ. 

The Premier League were presented with a 123-page document outlining the infringement, which is due to be published on June 16. 

Meanwhile, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has said he is ‘extremely sympathetic’ to the fiancee of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Hatice Cengiz has called for the takeover to be stopped and her lawyer has written to Masters twice urging him to block the deal in light of the murder of the Washington Post reporter. The United Nations and CIA have implicated Saudi ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the murder, which he denies.

Masters replied: ‘I assure you and your client that her representations are being fully considered in our process.’

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