Speaking at a hearing of the British Parliament’s digital, culture, media and sports committee, Premier League CEO Richard Masters admitted that the Newcastle Saudi takeover had become complicated but refused to divulge details in lieu of being bound by confidentiality clauses in the takeover process.
The Premier League board has been examining the proposed takeover based on its owners and directors test that assesses whether ownership groups are suitable.
One of the issues raised by critics of the Newcastle takeover is Saudi Arabia’s response to cases of unauthorised broadcasting of Premier League games in the country.
Earlier this month, a World Trade Organization (WTO) panel told the country it had breached global rules on intellectual property rights by failing to prosecute the channel BeoutQ for pirate broadcasts of sports and movies. their Gulf neighbour Qatar
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“BeoutQ is now off the air, and what we want, off the back of the WTO report, is for Saudi Arabia to respond positively the situation and to allow sports rights-holders to take their rights,” said Masters in response to questions about the country’s response to claims of piracy.
After being questioned about the uncertainty over the Newcastle takeover by the British Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee in a hearing, Master said, “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 happen cleanly, clearly and in a timely fashion. Sometimes, things get complicated.”
Despite the roadblocks, Masters expects the deal to conclude “shortly”.
“When they drag on, sometimes there's a requirement for information. It's a relatively rare occurrence,” he said.“I think it's very difficult to keep a constant dialogue with fans about what's an entirely confidential process. We can't provide a running commentary on things and, as I said, I just can't talk about the specifics of this particular process.”
Premier League’s Support for Women's Game
In his address Masters was also involved in addressing another crucial issue for the game in the country, telling MPs that English women’s football has been offered £1 million ($1.1 million) to help start their 2020-21 season.
The money offer is supposed to go toward the coronavirus testing necessary to enable clubs to return back on the pitch for the next season.
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Masters told the Department of Culture, Media and Sport select committee that he expects the Premier League to take control of the women’s professional game some time in the future. However, he stated that ‘‘now is not the right time’.
The Football Association cancelled both the Women’s Championship and Women’s Super League in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and concluded the final results on the basis of points per game system.
Masters indicated that the Premier League’s $1.1 million could help the women’s game get going. “What we've been able to do about the women's game is to help them to the tune of around £1m to help get their testing programme up and running,” he added."We've recently made that funding gesture to them and I believe on that basis they are able to start their 2021 season.”
Meanwhile, a member of the committee, MP Julie Elliott, criticised the discrepancy in efforts put to restart the men’s game in comparison to the women’s game. Writing in a column for the Guardian, Elliott came down heavily on the Secretary of the committee Oliver Dowden ‘football is back’, the reality is that only men’s football is.
“Young girls,” Elliott wrote, “who are dreaming of playing football when they are older will only see professional men’s football on their screens until autumn.”
Champions League To Go Ahead
UEFA remains committed to their current plan for the Champions League which involves a final eight style tournament to take place in Lisbon, in August. This, despite several towns in the country heading toward a lockdown due to surging cases of Covid-19.
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“UEFA is in permanent contact with the Portuguese Football Association and the local authorities,” the governing body told French sports daily L’Equipe. “We hope that everything will go well and that it will be possible to organise the tournament in Portugal. For the moment there is no reason to have a plan B.”
UEFA admitted that they will “adapt if [they] have to.”
The Portuguese government, stated last Thursday, that those living in affected areas of the capital (excluding 19 parishes in downtown Lisbon) would be allowed to leave home only to buy essential goods or to travel to and fro from work. These measures will come into effect from July 1-14 and will further be reviewed thereafter.
Leicester vs Palace Could Be Cancelled
The Premier League’s "contingency" plans for staging Leicester's home fixture against Crystal Palace could come into play as lockdown rules get stricter in the city.
The Foxes are scheduled to host Palace on Saturday but a rise in the number of cases in the city has become a cause of concern for the hosts.
Premier League Chief Executive Masters admitted that a curtailment of the game was “possible” but also admitted that the restart of the games has proven to be a guideline as to how football can restart.
“If what is happening in Leicester – we’re waiting to hear – does affect the club’s ability to run home games, either the match on Saturday against Crystal Palace at 3pm or subsequent matches, we have a contingency to put those matches elsewhere or postpone them until a date it’s safe to do so,” Masters said. “Of course contingency plans are discussed as part of our overall planning.”
“And just thinking about next season, we have broken the back if you like of the operating model of playing football matches behind closed doors, where the whole country, the whole economy if you like, is affected by Covid, and that has been the hardest part.”
Masters said that curtailment negotiations were left at a certain point, but can be picked back up.
West Ham to Honour Legends
West Ham plan to honour club legends Bobby Moore, Sir Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters with statues at the London Stadium that are going to be a part of the club’s 125th anniversary celebrations.
The statue is going to be of the trio lifting the European Cup Winners' Cup in 1965.
An original 'Champions' Statue' still stands tall at the Boleyn Ground (also known as Upton Park), the Hammers' former stadium. West Ham said the new statue will help bring "our rich heritage and history to London Stadium".
Hammers trio Moore, Hurst and Peters helped England win the World Cup in 1966, after their European club success.
"It is a tremendous honour and I feel very proud that Bobby, Martin and I, along with our team-mates in 1965, have been recognised in this way," said Hurst.
"We were all very fortunate to play together for West Ham United at a time when the club enjoyed such great success, and it was our development in that period which ultimately paved the way for the achievement of winning the World Cup with England."
World Cup-winning captain Moore died aged 51 in 1993 while Peters passed away in December of 2019 at the age of 76.
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