Newcastle’s takeover bid is reportedly facing opposition from up to 10 Premier League clubs as Mike Ashley sweats over completion of the deal.
The consortium backed by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is waiting to hear whether their £300million takeover will be passed through by the Premier League.
But there are growing concerns from other top-flight sides about the takeover, and they could now urge the Premier League to block the change of ownership.
The Sun report that concerns are in relation to allegations surrounding Saudi’s problem with piracy.
Legal documents obtained by Premier League chiefs suggest Saudi Arabia was supporting BeoutQ – a streaming platform which was found to be illegally broadcasting sporting events, including top-flight football fixtures.
Former Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys has claimed that such a scam had robbed his current employers beIN Sports of “millions – possibly billions”.
Should the allegations prove true, it would raise serious question marks over the credibility of the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) looking to take charge of Newcastle.
The takeover is already open to scepticism due to Saudi Arabia’s dismal human rights record, and the PIF still need to pass the Premier League’s fit and proper persons test.
An investigation by the US government has already said to have found links between BeoutQ and the Saudi government, potentially scuppering the Newcastle deal, given the scam has a negative impact on the Premier League’s commercial rights and revenue.
The PIF have maintained they have no involvement in the piracy issue but that is difficult to conceive given Bin Salman’s standing within the Saudi regime.
Uncertainty surrounding the deal with the Saudi consortium is now said to be unsettling Ashley, and forcing him to weigh up his options.
He has another offer on the table from US media mogul Henry Mauriss, who has been inspired by the progress made by Fenway Sports Group at Liverpool, and wants to incorporate a similar model at Newcastle.
After the Portuguese left Real Madrid for Juventus, he said: “It was nice to play against Cristiano, he made Madrid a stronger side. I said at the beginning of the season that Madrid would miss him, as any team would.
“It made a lot of Madrid fans a bit angry but that is the reality. Any team would miss him. He scores 50 goals a season and he was the key player for them, of course they were going to miss that.”