A group of Saudi Arabian businessmen scrambled together at the last minute had offered a substantial sum to the Premier League for the rights to screen matches in the kingdom in a bid to solve the piracy issue which was feared could derail the Newcastle United takeover, the PA news agency has learned.
The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), under the chairmanship of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, which was set to take an 80% in the club under the consortium it was a part of withdrew its offer on Thursday due mainly to protracted negotiations. The group of Saudi private businessmen is understood to have been assembled from the country to put together an offer to take on the national rights for the league.
Qatar-based beIN Sports is the official Premier League rights-holder for the Middle East and North Africa region, including Saudi Arabia.
However, the Saudis put forward the argument that because beIN’s licence to broadcast in the kingdom had been cancelled, it could no longer be considered a legitimate broadcaster there. PA have the understanding that the Premier League dismissed the offer out of hand.
The Premier League declined to comment, a stance it has maintained throughout the takeover process.
The last minute offer to pay the Premier League to broadcast matches in Saudi Arabia came after the pirate broadcaster beoutQ illegally screened a huge variety of sporting events, including Premier League games.
A subsequent report issued by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in June connected the dots and drew a link between “individuals or entities” under the jurisdiction of the Saudi state and beoutQ, a pirate TV station which has been illegally broadcasting Premier League games in the Saudi kingdom.
On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia appealed against the findings of the WTO report.