31 July 2020CopyrightRory O'Neill

BeIN hails ‘massive’ IP win as Saudi Newcastle takeover fails

The failure of Saudi Arabia’s proposed takeover of Premier League club Newcastle United has been hailed as a “massive day for the protection of IP rights”.

A consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) withdrew its interest in acquiring the club yesterday, July 30.

The previous day, Saudi Arabia formally appealed against a  World Trade Organisation (WTO) decision which found that it had failed to apply criminal sanctions to the pirate broadcaster beoutQ.

The Newcastle bid has proven controversial since it was first announced. This is due to alleged human rights abuses, including the  murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, as well as piracy concerns involving beoutQ.

Qatari broadcaster beIN Media, whose content has been pirated on the beoutQ platform, has been  adamant that the deal should not have been allowed to go ahead.

BeIN is the Premier League’s exclusive broadcast partner in the Middle East and North Africa region.

In a  LinkedIn post, David Sugden, senior legal counsel at BeIN, welcomed the latest news on the takeover: “For three years barely anyone believed us, listened or cared. Immensely proud there’s finally some accountability. A massive day for the protection of IP rights.”

The PIF-led consortium withdrew its interest due to delays in clearing the Premier League’s Owners’ and Directors’ Test. This process is applied to any proposed takeover of a Premier League club.

In the case of the PIF consortium, the test began 16 weeks ago—an unusually lengthy period of time.

The Premier League has not commented publicly on the test, or on the ultimate collapse of the takeover.

But  The Athletic reports that concerns over the theft of the Premier League’s IP were an insurmountable hurdle for the Saudi consortium.

Since the WTO issued its ruling last month, Saudi Arabia has  publicly defended its IP system, but permanently banned BeIN Media from operating in the country.

That left Saudi viewers with no legal means of watching Premier League football, including prospective Newcastle United matches next season.

The move clashed with public statements reaffirming Saudi Arabia’s commitment to IP rights, and made it less clear than ever how the takeover could be allowed to proceed.

Did you enjoy reading this story?  Sign up to our free daily newsletters and get stories sent like this straight to your inbox.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at atapping@newtonmedia.co.uk

More on this story

26 February 2021   The owner of BeIN Sports is suing Turkish football club Fenerbahçe after it used a distorted version of the Qatari broadcaster’s logo to protest against alleged bias in its coverage.
15 March 2021   A group of three men responsible for running illegal sports streaming sites have been ordered to pay €7 million in damages to Canal+, beIN Sports and RMC Sports by the Rennes Criminal Court.
8 October 2021   Saudi Arabia is set to lift its four-year ban on Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports, bringing an end to a drawn-out dispute over illegal streaming of Premier League football matches.