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US businessman makes £350m riv...
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US businessman makes £350m rival takeover bid for Newcastle

Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

13:11 17 Jun 2020

Just when it seemed like Newcastle United was on the verge of finally being sold, a rival bid has come in from the United States.

American television executive Henry Mauriss has made a formal offer of £350m to buy the Premier League club from Mike Ashley.

Mauriss (56) is CEO and Chairman of the Board of ClearTV Ltd., a media company that operates a number of television network platforms, including one of the largest television networks for airports in the US.

His bid represents an increase of £50m on the sale that Ashley, who has owned the club for 13 years, agreed with PCP Capital Partners last April.

However, that deal would have to collapse for Mauriss to have a chance of buying the club.

The takeover of Newcastle by PCP Capital Partners, Amanda Staveley's Saudi-backed consortium, which includes Saudi Arabia crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, has come in for a lot of criticism.

It is currently undergoing the Premier League's Owners' and Directors' Test (formerly known as the Fit and Proper Person's Test).

In April, Amnesty International wrote to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters asking him to examine the human rights record of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince.

Amnesty claimed that if the deal was allowed to go through, the Premier League "risks becoming a patsy" to Saudi Arabia.

Another issue for Staveley's Saudi-backed consortium is the opposition from Qatari sports broadcaster beIN Sports, who claim Saudi Arabia is involved in the illegal streaming of Premier League matches.

On Tuesday, both FIFA and UEFA welcomed a World Trade Organisation (WTO) report on the Saudi Arabia-based piracy operation known as beoutQ.

The WTO completed an impartial, independent and detailed 1.5 year evaluation of Saudi Arabia's conduct in relation to beoutQ's piracy of football broadcasts.

beoutQ, which has used footage from beIN, has streamed live coverage of everything from the FIFA World Cup, to Formula One and Grand Slam tennis championships – without having any rights to do so.

In its final judgement, the WTO "has conclusively ruled that the Government of Saudi Arabia has actively promoted and supported the beoutQ pirate operation since the beginning and has wholly breached, and is breaching, its obligations under international law to protect intellectual property rights".

This contradicted previous claims from the Saudis that beoutQ was acting independently of their influence.

The UK government decided to take a hands-off approach.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport, said in April that the government would not attempt to influence the situation.

However, earlier this month the Independent reported that a group of 16 cross-party MPs and peers have written to the government raising concern over the threat of sportswashing in the UK.

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Amanda Staveley Henry Mauriss Mike Ashley Newcastle United Premier League

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