In black and white - this is not about Newcastle.

Published: Saturday, 25 April 2020

One last time - this is NOT about Newcastle. It’s not about me for sure. It’s not about Saudi v Qatar. It’s not about making a judgement on the House of Saud. It’s about right and wrong. It’s a legal matter. And it will be judged as such.

Anyone who doubts the above go and look at what I’ve been saying on K&G All our shows are available on YouTube. I have never wavered on my view nor on what I have said.  And I wish the Saudi’s were trying to buy any club other than Newcastle so we could talk about them and not the Toon.

This is about beINSPORTS - the legitimate holders of Premier League rights in the Middle East and North Africa - and beOutQ - a Saudi owned pirate operator, that has been stealing the intellectual rights of the legal owner for the last three years. And not just PL rights - but the rights of every other sports operator world wide.

What do I mean? Well, this is the example I used on air this week. Sky buy PL rights for billions. They sell subscriptions, as well as sponsorships and ads, in order to make a profit on their outlay. It’s a fairly straight forward business model. But - let’s say ITV decide they’re going to broadcast Sky’s property. They don’t just steal the matches, they sell set top boxes and subscriptions - and advertising in scheduled commercial breaks. This business model is to totally illegal. But its what’s been happening in our part of the world. The obvious conclusion is that sports rights become worthless and sport dies. Football is in a total mess six weeks after Covid 19 stopped play. Imagine what it would be like without any tv money whatsoever.

In fairness to the PL they’ve been more active in trying to shut down the Saudi pirate operation than any other sports rights body. Nine times they’ve tried to employ legal companies in Saudi to sue on their behalf. Nine different companies have backed away from the job.

Here’s a statement from the PL last Sept, after many many months of work exploring who was behind the pirate operation BoutQ.

‘An independent report confirms, without question, BoutQ’s pirate broadcasts have been transmitted using satellite infrastructure owned and operated by Arabsat, a Riyad based satellite provider partly owned by the Saudi Arabian government and other gulf states’. No room for confusion is there?

In recent months the Saudi’s moved to close down the operation distancing themselves from it. But the illegal streaming goes on through the illegal set-top boxes. The Saudi’s will also argue that those trying to buy Newcastle are independent of them. But, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund are backing the bid. It’s not for me to decide on that matter. The lawyers will.

So you see, it’s not about whether I like Newcastle or not - and I’ve never suggested I don’t. I repeat what I’ve often said - it’s a proper club in a part of the world that I always enjoyed visiting.

Did I buy into Rafa’s argument that he was the only man that could manage the club? No. Steve Bruce has proven me right.

Did I believe Rafa should have control of the purse strings? No I didn’t, but more importantly, nor did Mike Ashley. Why did Benitez want control? I can’t for a minute guess, but my surprise is that he didn’t want good old ‘Arry installed as director of football to help him identify talent. Football fans spend hard earned money to watch their team and are excited about transfer deals. They expect good governance. A deal to buy a player should be simple. Transfer fees should not be scattered about like confetti.

I’ve defended Ashley, not because I know him - I don’t. I’ve defended him because - as I’ve always said - it’s his club and therefore it’s his right to run it how he sees fit. Do I have a view on his business empire and how he runs that? No. Not my business.

Newcastle is in great shape thanks to some careful management on Ashley’s part. It’s why the Saudi’s want it. I get that too. It’s a great buy, but whether they’ll be allowed to is another matter. Whether they will be allowed to is a legal matter. As a journalist it’s my job to put these matters into the public domain. I’ve done that. I’ve explained again, as best I can, why I’ve done that. The lawyers will decide what happens next.

In the meantime I’ll return to the day job - broadcasting on the legal operator beINSPORTS - all over the world 5 days a week. If you can’t find us like that - then go to YouTube. Andy and I are there as well - with some very interesting things to say!! 👍🏼