The moral, political and legal difficulties presented to the Premier League by Saudi Arabia’s proposed takeover of Newcastle United is likely to see a revamp of their owners’ and directors’ test, sources have told Sportsmail.
The £300million deal, backed by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, is awaiting the League’s approval but that process is understood to have been held up given the complexity of broadcast piracy allegations against the Saudi state.
Sources close to the deal suspect a decision could even be delayed until next week, especially as the matter of if and when Premier League football can return will be taking priority.
Qatar-based BeIN Sports – who are Premier League TV rights holders – have written to the League objecting to the takeover, citing the illegal streaming of top-flight matches in Saudi.
Sources close to the process believe the Premier League have been abandoned by the Government and left to make a decision that will see a major fallout whether they reject the takeover or sign off on it.
We are told that the likelihood remains that the deal will be approved, in part because the Premier League tests are badly drafted and do not take issues like piracy specifically into account.
Given the Premier League has unsuccessfully sought to gain legal representation nine times in Saudi in an effort to bring those they accuse of piracy to justice, the proposed takeover has left them with a moral and legal dilemma of their own.
Sources say the League is being portrayed as the ‘bad guys’ despite having done more than any other major league to tackle piracy.
But we are told it is the framework of the owners’ and directors’ test that has left them exposed to criticism and, as such, a review of the process of examining prospective new owners is expected once the Newcastle takeover is resolved.
Meanwhile, Newcastle’s players are now being prepped for a return to training on May 18.
We understand a proposed earlier date has now been put back but the plan remains to train in small groups.