George Caulkin shares insight whether WTO report could affect Newcastle United takeover

Mike Ashley

The World Trade Organisation has released a report yesterday that has dampened the spirit of the Newcastle fan base to a large extent.

The 125-page World Trade Organisation (WTO) report states that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was behind beoutQ – a pirate satellite TV and streaming service that illegally broadcasts sporting events.


The report claimed that KSA facilitated the piracy of Premier League matches and failed to stop the beoutQ pirate operation and blocked moves to shut it down.

The ruling now raises serious questions over whether the Premier League can approve the £300m takeover bid from the Saudi consortium.

George Caulkin of The Athletic has shed light on the topic. He says that although WTO was critical of Saudi Arabia, they didn’t mention Newcastle or PIF in their report.

On the face value, this sounds damaging but the would-be owners are aware of this objection. He claims that the Premier League have been discussing this subject with Amanda Staveley group for the past few weeks, and the potential owners have answered every question of theirs.

“The WTO (World Trade Organization) report is highly critical of Saudi Arabia regarding the piracy of television rights, though neither Newcastle nor the PIF (Public Investment Fund) is specifically mentioned in it,” Caulkin wrote for The Athletic.

“On the face of it, this sounds very damaging, while UEFA and FIFA were both quick to issue strongly-worded statements off the back of it, with the game’s world governing body “demanding” Saudi Arabia take the necessary steps to “protect legitimate rights partners… and football itself”. Yet this is also precisely the subject which the Premier League has been discussing with Staveley’s consortium for the past few weeks.”

The WTO report states Saudi Arabia breached article 61 of the organisation’s Trips [intellectual property] agreement. However, the UK government has once again stated clearly that they will not intervene in the Newcastle United takeover decision.

Caulkin adds that it is unknown to everyone whether the WTO report directly influences the Premier League’s scrutiny of the sale of Newcastle. Only time will tell whether the Premier League will give more importance to the WTO report or they will be satisfied with the documents provided by the Staveley group.