Newcastle United are up for a scrap against Sheffield.
Saudi Arabia has an eye on the main prize - a potential takeover of one of Premier League's glamour clubs, Newcastle United. Cracking down on pirated sports broadcasts would help smoothen that deal. Image Credit: Reuters

Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia has started cracking down on pirate streaming sites beaming popular live sports and other content into the kingdom.

This move could have a major say in deciding the future of Saudi Arabia’s planned takeover of the English football club, Newcastle United.

The English Premier League is yet to decide whether it will allow a £300 million Saudi Arabian-backed takeover of Newcastle United, and there are concerns these relate to the kingdom’s reported involvement in pirate sports streaming platforms.

The Public Investment Fund is eyeing an 80 per cent stake in Newcastle United as part of a consortium buyout.

Targetting all pirates

In a statement on government social media channels, Saudi Arabia said it has conducted an “online inspection campaign” designed to block “websites and platforms that violate intellectual property laws, including sites broadcast from outside the kingdom.”

The Saudi Authority For Intellectual Property (SAIP) monitored 231 websites that violate the intellectual property law.

Heavy penalty

Those breaching copyright protection law could incur fines of up to 250,000 Saudi riyals, while the website committing the offence could be shut down and those responsible jailed for up to six months.

The 231 sites engaged in violations such as downloading and copyrighted movies and TV series and directly broadcasting sites of encrypted sports channels, downloading books in PDF format, as well as downloading music sites without obtaining a prior licence from the rights holder.