Qatar-based broadcaster beIN SPORTS has reportedly asked Premier League clubs to block the proposed takeover of Newcastle United. (More Football News)
The Magpies are said to be close to being sold to a sovereign wealth fund, which involves Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, for approximately £300million.
The deal will reportedly see the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia purchase an 80 per cent stake in Newcastle, who have been owned by retail entrepreneur Mike Ashley for the past 13 years.
The proposed sale of the club has attracted criticism from Amnesty International, which has expressed fears the Newcastle deal is being used as a means of "glamourising" the "abysmal" human rights record in the kingdom.
According to widespread reports in the UK media, beIN SPORTS has now urged Premier League clubs to oppose the takeover due to concerns raised around a pirate broadcasting network in which Saudi Arabia is allegedly involved.
The network, known as beoutQ, has been identified as an illegal pirate channel showing live sports events including Premier League matches in several Middle East territories.
In the letter, Yousef al-Obaidly, the chief executive of beIN SPORTS, reportedly told chairmen of Premier League clubs that "the potential acquirer of Newcastle United [has] caused huge damage to your clubs' and the Premier League's commercial revenues".
He is said to have added that the economic damage being wrought by the coronavirus pandemic means the beoutQ piracy is happening "at a time when football clubs need to protect their broadcast revenue the most".
In August 2018, the Premier League published an open letter condemning beoutQ and declaring beIN as the legitimate rights holder for the Premier League in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
It also confirmed it had appointed legal counsel in Saudi Arabia to bring action against the parties involved in the illegal broadcasting, which it described as "a highly sophisticated pirate operation".
A Premier League spokesperson also said: "The Premier League has written to the European Commission as part of the Sports Rights Owners Coalition. This is just one of the measures we are taking to address this very serious issue.
"We operate a significant anti-piracy programme in a range of countries to protect the copyright of the League and our clubs. Like all content creators and rights owners, our business model is predicated on the ability to market and sell protected rights and we will take all available action to support the investment made in the League by our legitimate broadcast partners."
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