MODEL LETTER TO TYNESIDE LABOUR MPs
Please feel free to use this letter and add your own ideas - NUFC Fans Against Sportswashing feels it is vital that our political representatives make good on their pre-takeover commitments to hold the Saudi owners of Newcastle United Football Club to account regarding human rights.
Dear (Insert name of your local MP)
Prior to the takeover of Newcastle United by the Saudi state, Labour MPs like yourself demanded transparency from the Premier League on the question of the ownership and sale of our historic club. Some of you also stated that Saudi ownership of NUFC would not stop you holding the owners to account regarding human rights.
Almost 19 months on we have seen no evidence that the 80% owners are being held to account by you.
Why have you not raised the issue of human rights in Saudi Arabia or asked questions about the Saudi ownership of Newcastle United, either in parliament or in other public settings? Couldn’t it be done in ways that showed your love of the football club and pride in the city of Newcastle, with its proud history of campaigning for human decency and for people to be treated with dignity, as exemplified by Grey’s Monument in the very centre of the city we both love, with its tribute to the Prime Minister who abolished slavery in the British Empire?
Would it be so politically dangerous to ask Amanda Staveley what has happened concerning improvements in human rights in Saudi Arabia since the takeover in October 2021? Would you speak out about the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and the terrible loss of life in Yemen, if the Saudi PIF were not the majority owners of Newcastle United?
Then we have the very dubious role of ex-prime Minister Boris Johnson in the takeover itself. It was reported in The Guardian as long ago as May 2022 that the Labour Party were pushing the government to “come clean over the involvement in Newcastle takeover”, while it was reported in the Athletic on 6th April this year that, “Lucy Powell MP, Labour’s Shadow Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Secretary, has criticised Boris Johnson’s handling of the Newcastle United takeover, saying the former prime minister “wouldn’t know the truth if it smacked him in the face”, and called on the government to expedite plans for an independent regulator in football.” As a Labour MP for a constituency in the Newcastle area shouldn’t you also be saying something about this murky affair?
Similarly, there is the policy of your very own Labour Party towards Saudi Arabia in general. It was reported on the BBC News website in March 2022 that Keir Starmer was criticising the then Prime Minister Johnson’s visit to Saudi Arabia, saying that ““going cap-in-hand from dictator to dictator” was not an energy policy.” Do you agree with this statement?
This season there have also been some signs that the takeover could be unravelling. NUFC Chairman, Yasir Al-Rumayyan was named in official papers as a Saudi minister in a US court in March, while Premier League rules have been changed to ban human rights abusers from owning premier League clubs. Indeed, it would appear that this whole issue is only going one way. Do you want to be on the wrong side of history?
Would you be prepared to ask questions about the Saudi majority ownership of Newcastle United, to remind people in the region of our wonderful history of human rights work going back to the days of the Anti-Slave Trade movement in the 18th century and our reputation as a region of fair-minded and decent people? Would you be prepared to write to Amanda Staveley to ask in what ways she thinks human rights in KSA have improved since October 2021? I think that it would help the reputation of the city of Newcastle and Tyneside enormously, if you as an elected representative were able to engage with the public on the issues I have mentioned here.
Please let me have answers to the questions raised in this letter.