Who's leading the way in the Premier League sack race?
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Newcastle have received a major boost in their prospective Saudi takeover which hit significant bumps in the road back in 2020. A broadcast dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia has reportedly been cleared up, paving the way for the wheels to be set in motion once again which could see ownership change hands at one of England’s biggest clubs.
The two Middle Eastern states were locked in a years-long dispute after Qatari-based beIN Sports had its regional stream hijacked.
A Saudi-owned duplicate company, named beOUTQ, distributed the beIN feed across the region which cost the original firm millions.
Even after the duplicate was pinpointed and closed down in 2019, the Saudis continued to block the beIN stream which caused enduring tensions.
However, The Athletic report that Saudi Arabia have reversed their block on the beIN feed and settled their legal disputes.
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BeIN has a three-year £370million deal to broadcast the Premier League in the Middle East and North Africa, and the removal of this commercial tension is set to go down favourably in the eyes of Prem chief Richard Masters.
The Premier League originally refused to rule on the £300m takeover after investigating links between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, who were seeking an 80 per cent share in the Magpies.
With commercial opposition between the Premier League and Saudi Arabia now seemingly out of the way, Newcastle could soon be under new ownership.
That would spell the end of a 14-year stint under Mike Ashley, who fans have generally grown tired of since his takeover in 2007.
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The Englishman was supposedly keen to sell up when the Saudis’ initial takeover bid emerged in 2020, and Ashley launched legal proceedings against the Premier League for refusing to rule.
An arbitration hearing was due to take place this coming January, although Mail Sport now claim that it will not be necessary and the takeover is expected to go through.
Although fans would likely be pleased to see the back of Ashley, who has been criticised for his neglect of the club over the years, their new owners would be no less controversial.
Saudi Arabia have been at the centre of numerous human rights accusations, namely the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
However, with such financial might behind them, Newcastle could soon return to heavyweight status in England after a frugal and unsuccessful period in their history.
In what became a pillar of fans’ disgust, Michael Owen stood as their record signing for well over a decade until Miguel Almiron was signed in 2019.
Since then, the likes of Joelinton and Joe Willock have arrived for significant chunks of money, but the club are still noteworthy for a general lack of ambition.
That could soon change, with new life breathed into a dramatic takeover saga which could be set for more twists and turns over the coming days.
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