Major Middle East move with takeover repercussions

Middle East

A major breakthrough in the Gulf crisis is expected on Tuesday, with an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Qatar expected to be signed to pave the way for an end to the emnity between the two nations.

Several reports broke on Monday evening quoting an array of knowledgeable sources in the Middle East which claimed Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, Eygpt and Bahrain, are to lift the embargo on Qatar which has been ongoing since 2017.

Both the Associated Press and Reuters carried the reports which have potential repercussions for the Newcastle United takeover, removing – in theory – the open sore of Qatar and Saudi warring over pirated TV rights and the blocking of BeIN Sports in the Kingdom.

While the issue that effectively sunk the deal was about seperation of power between the PIF and the Saudi ruling Royal family, TV rights were a major issue for the deal.

In a letter which first became public in April – which can be read in full here – BeIN Sports wrote to Premier League clubs urging them to interrogate the Newcastle takeover proposal after allegations that the channel BeOut Q – which broadcast pirated Premier League matches as well as other major sporting events – was linked to the Saudi state.

And when Saudi Arabia banned BeIN from being shown in the country, it caused more problems for the deal. At the moment there is no way of watching Premier League football in Saudi Arabia legally.

Any agreement paves the way for that long-running issue to be resolved and would also remove many of the wider problems that surfaced in April.

It certainly appears closer, with Kuwaiti officials claiming Saudi’s boycott of Qatar will end as earlier as Tuesday.

A report on Al Jazeera stated: “Saudi Arabia, Qatar agree to open airspace, land and sea border, Kuwait’s foreign ministry announced on Monday.

“The state-run Kuwait News Agency reported the announcement, saying that Saudi Arabia would open its airspace, land and sea borders starting Monday evening.”

In an interview with ChronicleLive last month Kristian Ulrichsen, a Gulf policy expert, felt any easing of tensions could help the path to a takeover: “Would a rapprochement help things? Well it might just mean there are fewer issues between Saudi and Qatar and fewer poking exercises like this which might have the possibility of creating problems down the line.”

Running parallel to the easing of tensions is the case brought by Mike Ashley against the Premier League, which could potentially shift the goalposts on a deal that has stalled.

While the deal remains mothballed, the opportunity to resurrect it – which is what all parties claim to want – may yet present itself.

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