AFC BOURNEMOUTH'S 'very existence' could be threatened by piracy, according to a top international media executive.

Qatar-based beIN media group's chief executive Yousef Al Obaidly made the claim about what he described as "mid-ranking" Premier League clubs, such as the Cherries and Watford.

AFC Bournemouth is currently tenth in the league.

Mr Al Obaidly said it's the "elephant in the room" that sporting rights holders have to face or risk a dramatic drop in the money they earn from television rights.

The football rights held by beIN for competitions such as the Premier League and Champions League have been the target of a pirate network called beoutQ.

And he fears clubs that rely heavily on television revenue could suffer.

Speaking at the Leaders Week Sports Business Summit, he said: "Basically if you look at Premier League clubs, if you take Watford or Bournemouth, the revenue they get today mostly comes from broadcast revenues.

"Broadcast revenues thanks to the deal with Sky in Europe is 88 or 90 per cent of their total revenues, so if these rights are sold non-exclusively, the broadcasters will not come and just find that amount of money for the same price."

Research commissioned by a number of domestic leagues and international confederations published last month established a definitive link between beoutQ and Arabsat, which is headquartered in Saudi Arabia. Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been involved in a diplomatic dispute since 2017.

Al Obaidly issued a stark warning about what will happen if the problem is not confronted.

"Seemingly, everyone in this industry is asleep at the wheel and refuses to confront the piracy elephant that's been in the room for years," he said.

"I'm here to tell you how the endless growth of sports rights is over. Not only that, but in certain cases, rights values are going to drop off a cliff, and the very economic model of our industry is going to be rewritten.

"Any rights-holders who think that the technology companies of the (US) West Coast are their financial saviours are going to be swiftly disappointed.

"If you don't protect your intellectual property, you have nothing."

Al Obaidly said the response from most organisations to the threat posed by beoutQ, with some notable exceptions including the Premier League, had been "shambolic".