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Saudi links to Premier pirates lead to 'concern'

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Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Photo: REUTERS

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Photo: REUTERS

REUTERS

Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Photo: REUTERS

The UK government has expressed its "concern" at a report which found Saudi Arabia had facilitated the operations of a pirate network illegally broadcasting Premier League football.

The World Trade Organisation issued a report on Tuesday of last week which found there was a connection between the Saudi state and the beoutQ network and that the country had acted in a manner inconsistent with international law on intellectual property rights.

The Saudi public investment fund - chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman - is set to take an 80 per cent stake in Newcastle if a £300m takeover deal is approved by the Premier League.

Liz Truss, the Secretary of State for International Trade, was asked about the WTO report at a parliamentary committee hearing yesterday, and said she would ensure IP rights were protected in any future trade deal with Saudi Arabia.

"We have been very concerned about the stealing of the IP (intellectual property)," she said.

"We've taken it directly up with Saudi Arabia. I understand that this activity has now stopped, but we will make sure that we always work to protect our vital intellectual property, both in any trade deals we strike and also at the WTO."

The Saudi state has consistently denied any connection between it and the beoutQ network.

The Premier League wrote to the United States Trade Representative in February to complain about its repeated attempts to take action against beoutQ through the Saudi legal system and said that the country "remained a centre for piracy".

The English Football League (EFL) said yesterday three people from two different Championship clubs have tested positive for COVID-19 out of a sample of 2,858 individuals.

"Those players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate in line with the guidelines provided by the EFL and only those who have tested negative will be permitted to enter training ground facilities," the EFL said in a statement.

Nobody tested positive in the tests of four clubs each from English football's third-tier (League One) and fourth-tier (League Two).