The takeover of Newcastle United by a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium has edged closer after the Gulf state ended a dispute with BeIN Sports.
The blockade of the broadcaster in Saudi Arabia was among the key sticking points over a potential £300million (€353m) buy-out of the Premier League club.
It's reported that a deal to buy the Magpies could be completed by the weekend.
The BeIN Sports ban - with its ancillary issue of media piracy - was believed to be a greater problem than Saudi Arabia's human rights record or the bidding consortium's connections to the Saudi royal family.
An operation named beoutQ had been transmitting pirated transmissions of BeIN Sports programming into Saudi Arabia.
In the summer of 2020, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) "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".
The Saudi-backed consortium withdrew their bid for Newcastle on July 30, 2020, seventeen weeks after they'd agreed a purchase price with club owner Mike Ashley.
They blamed at the time the "unforeseen prolonged process".
This led to claims and counter-claims from bid representative Amanda Staveley, Ashley and the Premier League. The latter dismissed claims that the bid had failed its owners' test.
80 per cent of the financing for the bid comes from the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), with the remaining 20 per cent split between PCP Capital Partners (Staveley's company) and the Reuben Brothers.
Arbitration hearings between Newcastle and the Premier League had been adjourned until January of 2022.
While Newcastle fans will undoubtedly be delighted with the impeding departure of the deeply unpopular Ashley, there's been a warning not to expect mega-bucks signings.
The Independent report that PIF do not intend to shell out the kind of sums that have seen Abu Dhabi-backed Manchester City, and Roman Abramovich-supported Chelsea become super powers in European football.
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