The infamous four and a half year ban on beIN Sports, who have paid £400m for the rights to show the Premier League in the Middle East and North Africa, is due to be lifted in Saudi Arabia. The potential takeover of Newcastle United is set to be significally boosted by Saudi Arabia agreeing to settle their privacy war with Premier League broadcast partners beIN Sports.
The lift of the ban means that for the first time in years they’ll be a legal way in watching top sporting events in Saudi Arabia. Their top investor, the Public Investments Fund, were ready to buy Newcastle United for £305m. Saudi Arabia’s bid to buy Newcastle and turn them into a top tier club was stalled last summer over alleged rows of piracy involvement in the country. They officially walked away from the Amanda Staveley brokered deal last summer after it became caught up in legal matters.
It was almost impossible for the Premier League to allow a sale of one of their member clubs to a nation which had allowed games to be broadcast illegally, and banned their official broadcaster. But this was saved bt he Saudis have recently being very complient in removing pirate websites when informed of them by beIN Sports.
Lifting the ban on beIN Sports would open up a potential 40m for customers but there will still be a ruling on whether the Saudi state would become director of Newcastle or not. An arbitration hearing has been set for January 3rd to decide whether the Saudi Public Investments Fund can revive their bid once and for all or not. However it won’t be all smooth sailing as there’s already objections in the way of the bid due to the state involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Sources expect Saudi to quietly lift the ban on subscribing to beIN Sports and their website. The beoutQ piracy operation will be turned off for good. Saudis are ready to settle with the broadcaster in their $1bn arbitration case, making it the first time to watch major live sporting events legally since 2017.
Once the biggest obstacles have been removed, the many toon fans who want to end the current Mike Ashley era hope this triggers progress from early next year.
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Metro penalty fare rise from £20 to £100 supported by public, Nexus survey finds
The penalty for fare evasion on the Tyne and Wear Metro has now increased to £100, with commuters largely supporting the change.
But despite the steep increase in the penalty fee, a survey conducted by Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, found that 72% of people supported the increase. And 88% of people surveyed said that other passengers were the ones who were the real victims of ticketless Metro travel.
The survey, conducted through Nexus’ customer insight panel revealed that respondents regard fared evasion as seriously as handling stolen goods, tax evasion or weighing a cheaper item at a self-serve check-out.
It increased penalty fare comes after The Department for Transport (DfT) decided to raise the penalty for rail fare evasion in England and Wales as part of a new effort to crackdown on fare evasion across Britain’s railways. Metro is part of the Government’s national penalty fare regime, so it is included in the change.
Fare evasion on Metro costs Nexus £1m a year in lost revenue on what is a vital public service which does not make any profit.
Customer Services Director at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “The penalty for fare evasion on Metro has gone up to £100 from today and this is something that the overwhelming majority of our customers support.
“This is the first change since 2005 and reflects feedback from customers who want to see a strong deterrent against fraud. Anyone who is issued with a £100 penalty fare will pay £50 if it is paid with 21 days of it being issued.
“The Government consulted the whole rail industry and Nexus was among those keen to see an increase. Our customers tell us they want tougher penalties for those who decide not to pay their fare.
“The simple message for Metro customers is to buy a ticket every time you travel, that is a lot more affordable than risking the £100 fine.
“It’s never been easier to pay for Metro travel with a Pop Pay As You Go card and Android’s Google Pay. One in four customers are now accessing Metro this way and getting the lowest fares we have on offer.”
The penalty for Metro fare evasion, which is always set by the Government, has been £20 since May 2005.
If paid within 21 days, however, the £100 penalty is reduced to £50. But anyone who fails to pay the penalty fare will be taken to court, where a conviction results in much steeper fines.
‘Sex party’ in Newcastle cathedral under investigation by Vatican
Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral alleged to have invited worshippers to his living quarters during lockdown.
The Vatican is investigating rumours of a “sex party” at a British cathedral which is alleged to have happened during lockdown.
As part of an investigation into the circumstances of Robert Byrne’s resignation as the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, the Catholic church is looking into claims one of his priests invited worshippers to a private party at his lodgings.
Multiple people are said to have complained that Father Michael McCoy, dean of Newcastle Cathedral, approached them to attend a party at a time when gatherings were not permitted.
A diocese source told the Sunday Times said: “A number of complaints were made by individuals within the diocese after information came to light about a sex party taking place in the priests’ living quarters attached to Newcastle Cathedral.”
McCoy, 57, killed himself in April 2021 four days after finding out he was subject to an investigation by Northumbria police’s child and adult protection department for child sexual abuse.
He had been appointed by Byrne in 2019, replacing the popular Father Dermott Donnelly, the older brother of TV presenter Declan Donnelly. Father Donnelly has since died after an illness in July 2022.
While there is no suggestion Byrne attended the party, he resigned as bishop in December, telling worshippers his office “has become too great a burden”.
In a letter to clergy, which he read in St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle, he said: “My own discernment has caused me to recognise that I now feel unable to continue serving the people of the diocese in the way that I would wish.”
He was appointed in 2019, after previously serving as an auxiliary in the archdiocese of Birmingham and as provost of the Oxford Oratory from 1993 to 2011.
In a letter seen by the Sunday Times, the archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon who is running the diocese until Byrne’s successor is appointed and is leading the investigation into his resignation, said he has been asked by the pope’s advisers to prepare “an in-depth report into the events leading up to Bishop Byrne’s resignation”.
The Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (CSSA) last week began an “unscheduled safeguarding audit” at the diocese.
Steve Ashley, the CSSA chief executive officer said the body was independent and had “full autonomy”. He said: “The scope of the investigatory work will cover any reported abuses, alleged abuses, safeguarding concerns and the culture of safeguarding in the diocese as a whole.”
ITV to Launch Love Island For Middle-Aged Single Parents
Casting is open for the dating show, in which contestants will be nominated by their adult children
ITV has begun casting for a dating show for single parents. The contestants on The Romance Retreat will be nominated by their adult children to search for love at a Love Island-style villa.
“This is the only dating show where single parents can search for love, by spending time in a luxury retreat, where all the parents have been nominated by their grownup children,” reads the casting call.
A take on Love Island, which is a hit among gen Z viewers, for older contestants has been rumoured for months. In January, Davina McCall told Stephen Bartlett’s podcast, The Diary of a CEO, that she had pitched the idea to ITV.
“I could fill a villa in Love Island with middle-aged people with the best back stories you have ever heard in your life,” she said.
“They’ve lived a life – they’re widows, they’re people who have been through horrific divorces. They are people who have split up with somebody and decided they want to try going out with somebody the same sex as them. They’re like interesting people. I’d watch that show.”
According to the presenter, ITV responded to her request to host a show of that style with: “We’re looking at something else that’s quite similar, we might consider you for that”.
The current series of Love Island began on Monday, with a stricter set of rules in place to protect contestants’ wellbeing. Participants’ social media accounts must now remain unused while they are in the villa, rather than be operated on their behalf. It follows contestants’ families – who often run their accounts during the show – appealing for kinder comments from viewers.
This is the first series to be hosted by Maya Jama, after Laura Whitmore stepped down in August.
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