Premier League CEO Richard Masters says decision over £300m Saudi bid will be made ‘shortly’
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has hinted that a resolution over the proposed takeover of Newcastle United is close.
Masters was grilled by MPs about the £300million bid by the state-backed Saudi public investment fund (PIF) when he appeared at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday.
SNP MP John Nicholson quizzed the Premier League CEO on how they could allow a deal when a recent World Trade Organisation report found that Saudi Arabia were responsible for the theft of the beIN Sport copyrighted feed through the pirate beoutQ network.
Nicholson also made reference to the refusal to allow former One Direction star Louis Tomlinson to takeover Doncaster but Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman may be allowed to run a Premier League club despite accusations of his involvement the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Masters said: “You’re really asking me to comment on a confidential process and I simply can’t do it.
“I think our commitment to anti-piracy is well known.
“We were extremely frustrated about what happened with beoutQ.
“BeoutQ is now off the air and what we want to do off the back of the WTO report and the efforts that we and other sports have made is for Saudi Arabia to respond positively to the situation and to allow sports rights holders to protect their rights.
“Our owners and directors test is not a subjective one – it is an objective one.
“It allows us to disqualify potential owners – and I’m talking generally here not specifically – on a whole raft of different issues.
“We think it’s robust and it allows us to make decisions that are appropriate.
“The subjective part of a test would lead us into significant difficulty.
“What clubs want is certainty that if they can find the right owners for their football club they will be allowed through and if they’re not the right people that they won’t. It isn’t a subjective test in that respect.”
There has been a lengthy delay in the Premier League making a decision over the proposed takeover but there could be a resolution soon.
It has left Newcastle and current owner Mike Ashley in limbo while uncertainty continues around the decision.
Masters said: “There’s no timetable set as part of the rules and no particular time frame.
“These things normally take time. Some takeovers are straightforward and others aren’t.
“The process has to conclude and I would like the process to conclude shortly.
“I do appreciate that uncertainty.
“I cannot comment in terms of timing or the specifics on any particular takeover but in a perfect world takeovers would take place cleanly clearly and in a timely fashion.
“Sometimes things get complicated and obviously this particular one has.
“It’s very difficult to keep fans informed because it is an entirely confidential process that involves all sorts of due diligence and the application of the owners and directors test.
“We have always said that those particular processes would need to be entirely confidential and when they drag on sometimes there is a requirement for information.
“It’s a relatively rare occurrence. I think it’s very difficult to keep a constant dialogue with fans about what is an entirely confidential process.”