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Piracy will hurt some Premier League clubs much more than others, beIN Sports warns

Broadcasters aren’t doing enough to tackle illegal football streams, the head of beIN Media Group has claimed.

The Qatar-based firm is behind the beIN Sports network (the English-language version of which is often fronted by the, ahem, lovely Richard Keys-Andy Gray double-act), and its CEO, Yousef al-Obaidly, this week warned that the value of Premier League rights could fall off a cliff unless more is done to tackle illegal streaming − and that could spell big trouble for several beloved football clubs.

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“The glorious media rights bubble is about to burst. And the truth is that our industry is completely unprepared. In response to piracy, they are paying lip service to the problem,” he said at the Leaders Week conference in London, The Guardian reports.

“If you look at Premier League clubs, if you take Watford or Bournemouth, 88% or 90% revenue comes from broadcast revenues. So if we don’t do anything about piracy, you will have quite a reduction in the value of rights.”

If these figures from BBC Football for the 2016/17 season still paint an accurate picture of where the bulk of many Premier League clubs’ money comes from, Burnley, Crystal Palace, Southampton and most other sides that aren’t considered members of the so-called “big six” would be doomed too.

He aimed much of his ire at beoutQ, a pirate TV service that’s allegedly based in Saudi Arabia, which has not only been involved in a long-running feud with beIN Media Group, but also attracted criticism from the BBC and Sky.

Wimbledon became embroiled in a war of words with Saudi Arabia last year, when the All England Lawn Tennis Club and several other major tennis authorities jointly called for “the immediate closure” of beoutQ.

Saudi Arabia responded by claiming that beoutQ isn’t based in the Kingdom, and suggested that it may instead be based in Colombia or Cuba.

“BeoutQ stole every single match in the Uefa Champions League for two years straight; every single match in the 2018 Fifa men’s World Cup and the 2019 Women’s World Cup; almost every single major football league game in Europe. The NBA, the NFL, Formula One, the Olympics and Wimbledon,” al-Obaidly said this week.

“And apart from some slow legal responses and the occasional lobbying letter, the response from rights holders is simply not enough.”

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Rather sensationally, he then added: “I know that some rights holders currently invest more in their Christmas parties than on anti-piracy.”

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