This is why there has been a delay in Newcastle United's takeover

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There’s a nervousness among Newcastle United fans, and that’s understandable.

The future of the club is at stake as the Premier League runs its owners’ and directors’ test on would-be buyer Amanda Staveley and her backers, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and billionaire property investors David and Simon Reuben.

There were objections to the takeover from Qatar-based overseas rights-holder beIN Sports and Amnesty International.

And the Premier League is under intense scrutiny.

Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley.Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley.
Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley and managing director Lee Charnley. | Getty Images

What is the complaint?

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The objection from beIN relates to a long-running dispute over illegal broadcasts of Premier League games in Saudi Arabia, which has been the subject of previous litigation. It’s claimed that pirate channel beoutQ has been transmitted by state-owned satellite provider Arabsat.

A letter to the Premier League from chief executive Yousef Al-Obaidly to Masters reads: “It’s no exaggeration to say that the future economic model of football is at stake.

“The apparent involvement in the acquisition of NUFC of the principal sovereign wealth fund of the very country that for three years has openly facilitated the operation of the largest and most sophisticated sports piracy service ever seen – beoutQ – greatly concerns us."

St James's Park.St James's Park.
St James's Park. | JPIMedia

Presenter Richard Keys said: “They’ve been broadcasting our channels illegally.”

What is the context?

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This isn’t just about football. The Premier League has seemingly become embroiled in the bitter proxy war between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The two countries have been locked in a political and economic dispute since 2017 when Qatar, which will host the next World Cup, was accused of supporting terrorism.

Until the dispute, Saudi Arabia was beIN’s biggest market. With beIN, which has a £500million deal with the Premier League, now banned in the country, games can only be watched via illegal means.

Will it succeed?

It’s undoubtedly an awkward situation for the Premier League. It wants an end to piracy in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, but it will not want to take a side in a complicated geopolitical dispute.

Crucially, the owners’ and directors’ test is designed to assess the suitability of owners and directors – and not arbitrate in proxy wars.

That said, the complaint has undoubtedly complicated matters, and United fans can only wait, nervously, for this to play out.