British MP calls for Saudi takeover of Newcastle United to be blocked

Goal.com

Angus MacNeil, chair of the International Trade Select Committee and Member of Partliament for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, has written to trade secretary Liz Truss to raise his concerns over the Saudi Arabia-led takeover of Premier League side Newcastle.

If a deal is completed, Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund would own 80 per cent of the club, with Amanda Staveley's PCP Capital Partners and British businessmen the Reuben brothers sharing the remaining 20% equally.

Previously this week, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) found Saudi Arabia guilty of breaching international piracy laws by broadcasting various professional sports, including the Premier League.

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It is not the first time that the takeover has hit the headlines for the wrong headlines, with the £300 million ($375m) purchase of the club controversial because of the country’s human rights record.

In his letter to Truss, which has been seen by the BBC, MacNeil writes: “As you would have seen, the WTO has made a landmark ruling on the protection of sports rights, which is one of the UK's most valuable and treasured exports.

“In its ruling, the WTO held that the government of Saudi Arabia has, from the beginning, been actively supporting the 'beoutQ' piracy operation that has stolen the commercial rights of UK sports bodies for three years.

“This is an insult to the UK government, affront to the Premier League, and abuse of UK sport - and should not be tolerated.

“This is relevant today, right now, because the very entity that has been stealing premium UK sports and entertainment content is attempting to buy a major UK sporting institution - Newcastle United Football Club.

“The UK government must now play its part in protecting our creative industry exports by investigating the launch, promotion and operation of the beoutQ service. Quite simply, if Saudi Arabia is unwilling to play by the rules of international law, then it should have no role in the future of UK sport.”

Lawyers for the Premier League have been examining the deal for two months, and though the UK government had previously indicated that it would not intervene in the deal, earlier this week, foreign secretary Dominic Raab said: “I think it's right that that legal due process is followed and we have this debate about takeovers in this country. I think we should follow the rule of law.”

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