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Newcastle: Saudi-led takeover could be back on after beIN Sports issue resolved

Potential deal still needs Premier League approval but significant progress has been made; agreement could be reached soon which would bring Mike Ashley's 14-year ownership of Newcastle to an end

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Sky Sports News reporter Keith Downie has the latest developments from Newcastle United, with the Saudi-led takeover of the club potentially back on

The Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle United looks to be back on after the Saudi state resolved its issues with beIN Sports over illegal streaming of Premier League football.

The deal that would see an end to Mike Ashley's 14-year ownership of the club still needs Premier League approval, but significant progress has been made following the agreement between beIN and the Saudis on Wednesday.

It is believed an agreement between the Saudis and the Premier League could be reached soon, which would finally bring an end to the 18-month saga.

The Qatari network beIN has been unable to broadcast in Saudi Arabia for the last four-and-a-half years, as part of a diplomatic dispute, but the ban is set to come to an end.

The station had been opposed to the Newcastle takeover, saying the ban and piracy of its content was damaging sports rights holders.

Mike Ashley
Image: Mike Ashley's 14-year ownership of Newcastle could soon be coming to an end

As things stand, the club and the Premier League are set to enter arbitration over the takeover, with a separate competition law hearing confirming last week that the arbitration hearing would start on January 3.

The takeover would involve Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) taking a controlling 80 per cent stake in the club.

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The consortium withdrew after the Premier League identified the Saudi stake as a director with control over the club, which would have made it subject to the league's owners' and directors' test as part of the takeover process.

The Competition Appeals Tribunal heard last week the league had been "improperly influenced" by beIN and rival Premier League clubs in its consideration of the takeover.

Daniel Jowell QC, acting for St James Holdings Ltd, said the broadcaster and the clubs' "active lobbying" of the league "distorted the Premier League's fair and objective application of the rules".

'Takeover could now be pushed through'

Sky Sports News reporter Keith Downie says the agreement reached on Wednesday could lead to the Saudi takeover of Newcastle getting the go-ahead.

He said: "There is growing confidence on Tyneside tonight that the £300m takeover, led by Amanda Staveley and backed by the Sovereign Wealth Fund of Saudi Arabia, could finally be pushed through, after 18 months of talks.

"That comes after a resolution was agreed between beIN Sports and the Gulf State over the illegal streaming of Premier League football in Saudi Arabia.

"[Wednesday's] developments could bring us closer to an agreement between the Premier League and the consortium themselves.

Newcastle United's Sean Longstaff (right) celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game
Image: Newcastle are yet to win in the Premier League this season but a planned takeover of the club may now be back on

"What must happen now, is that it must the ratified by the Premier League.

"That was the issue last summer. when the Saudi element of the consortium didn't pass the owners' and directors' test, with the Premier League looking for further information.

"It's our understanding that some of the elements have been agreed and this takeover could be pushed through sooner rather than later."

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