Newcastle takeover Q&A: What next?

Sky Sports News' North East reporter Keith Downie offers the latest on Newcastle's proposed takeover

Expectations remain high at Newcastle but safety is paramount
Image: is the Newcastle takeover still happening?

Newcastle's takeover saga continues following the Saudi Arabian government's decision on Tuesday to ban the Premier League's Qatar-based broadcast partner. Here Sky Sports News North East reporter Keith Downie asks what this means going forward...

What is the significance of this week's announcement in Saudi Arabia regarding broadcasting rights?

It means football fans in Saudi Arabia have no legitimate way of watching Premier League football - including Newcastle United - at the moment.

Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Competition (GAC) has permanently cancelled the licence of Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports due to a national dispute with Qatar itself.

The statue of Bobby Robson is seen outside St James' Park
Image: The Saudi Public Investment fund are still awaiting Premier League approval

GAC also stated they are fining BeIN £2.1m for what they say are "monopolistic practices", which BeIN denies. The decision comes at the end of a lengthy investigation, with the Doha-based broadcaster having initially been banned since 2017.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) is awaiting approval or otherwise from the Premier League for their proposed takeover of Newcastle.

Does this mean the takeover is more or less likely?

Sky Sports News has been told from one source close to the deal that the decision by Saudi Arabia to ban BeIN is unrelated to the takeover of Newcastle United. It's worth noting though that this information has not been fully verified by more than one source.

A view of St. James' Park, taken prior to Newcastle United vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
Image: Could there be a new sponsor at St James' Park next season?

One train of thought would be that BeIN has been cut off permanently by the Saudis in an effort to stay ahead of the curve, with them feeling that the takeover is set to fail in no small part to due to the lobbying of BeIN. However, on the flip side, could a broadcasting agreement be put together that doesn't involve BeIN?

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It's difficult to tell because the vast majority of information is highly confidential.

There have been a lot of objections and obstacles throughout this process and as of yet we have not seen the Saudi bid thrown out.

What's the impact on Steve Bruce and the players?

Newcastle United's manager has said on a few different occasions the takeover is causing uncertainty throughout the club and its fanbase.

Steve Bruce, Manager of Newcastle United looks on prior to the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Burnley FC at St. James Park on February 29, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.
Image: Steve Bruce has repeatedly called for clarity surrounding the takeover

He has always said that the players are professional enough to get on with their jobs and ignore the chatter, but it is evidently becoming a strain on Bruce himself. He is trying to piece together a plan for next season not knowing if he will be in charge or not.

Bruce is keen to get ahead of the game by identifying players and making bids once the transfer window opens, but Mike Ashley will be against spending large sums of money with a price for the sale of the club already agreed with the Saudi-backed consortium.

Mike Ashley at Wembley Stadium in 2019
Image: Mike Ashley is unlikely to spend money in the summer with the deal still up in the air

Bruce is concerned that the hold-up will have ramifications for the club and his work next season should he still be in a job by the time the new campaign kicks off. He has now openly called for clarity from the Premier League on three separate occasions. The season ends in just over a week, with the transfer window opening in 12 days' time.

When will there be a decision?

The million dollar question! The feeling from people close to the deal, and within the club, was that this would take a matter of weeks after the papers were lodged with the Premier League in April. However, three months on and we still wait.

In an interview with Sky Sports News, at the end of May, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said the league isn't working towards a specific timeframe.

Masters told a Parliamentary inquiry into COVID-19's impact on sport last month that the he would like the process to conclude "shortly" but conceded "some takeovers are straightforward and others aren't".

To our knowledge, there has never been a 'deadline' date put in place. This isn't a transfer window so there is little point in speculating. Only the Premier League know the answer; not Newcastle United nor the would-be owners. But of course there is the danger that one of the parties walks away if the impasse continues.

A potentially significant date is the Premier League AGM next month. It will take place when all 20 clubs are confirmed for next season, so after the Championship play-off final on August 4.

The AGM is when club owners and directors meet and agree decisions for next season. The ownership situation doesn't have to be resolved by that date, but it would be preferential for everybody if there was clarity.

The lack of clarity throughout this whole process is due to the lack of public statement. As the Premier League consistently point out, their Owners & Directors Test is highly confidential.

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