Newcastle United's Proposed Takeover Is Now In 'Serious Doubt'
Newcastle United's potential takeover by the Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund could be in huge doubt, thanks to a ruling by the World Trade Organization.
Mike Ashley has been waiting to sell Newcastle for some time and the potential new owners have been waiting for over two months from the league for approval to complete the deal.
However, according to the Guardian, the deal could now be in danger of being stopped by the Premier League. It all comes down to illegal pirating of the league's television coverage in Saudi Arabia through a company called beoutQ.
The newspaper says that the WTO's report into the matter, which won't be published until next month, has ruled that the country's government is behind the illegal pirate service.
The 130 page report, which has already been sent to the league, also shows that the Premier League has made submissions against Saudi Arabia as part of the legal process.
Nine local legal firms in the Middle East have refused to take on the case for England's top tier, as well as FIFA, UEFA, La Liga and others who have also tried to start proceedings against beoutQ.
WTO's report will cast huge doubts over the league accepting the bid to take over Newcastle, which would see Saudi's PIF own 80% of the club, as it could mean the new owners failing the fit and proper persons test.
Perspective owners can fail the test if they're guilty of a crime that would be illegal in the UK or if they have given 'false, misleading or inaccurate' as part of their submission.
beIN Sport, the Qatari owned television company, hold the biggest contract, in terms of money, for showing coverage of England's top tier outside of the UK and had called on the club to reject Newcastle's new owners.
Amnesty International had also called on league executives to stop the takeover due to Saudi Arabia's poor human rights record.
Fans of the Magpies have been desperate to get rid of Ashley since he took over and have been unhappy with how the Sports Direct owner has run the club.
The team have been relegated to the Championship on two occasions, being promoted straight back up on both, and there has been a severe lack of investment in the team.