OCTOBER 7th- ANNIVERSARY OF THE TAKEOVER OF NEWCASTLE UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB BY THE SAUDI STATE - OUR STATEMENT
On 7th October 2021, some Newcastle United fans congregated outside St James’ Park to celebrate the news that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund now held a majority stake in the club.
Some supporters waved Saudi Arabia flags, and others chanted “we’ve got our club back”. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth – the club is now a propaganda tool for the Saudi state.
Hatice Cengiz, the bereaved fiancé of the murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi had a different response to the takeover, asking: "how do the players, the fans and the director of Newcastle accept this situation? I am really sad about this point. I guess money is more important than anything in this life."
Sky Sports’ Gary Neville gave his view on Saudi involvement in our club, saying that he “prefers to collaborate and set targets where they change their ways”. The notion that owning Newcastle United would improve human rights in Saudi Arabia has been echoed by some fans and other interested parties.
But under Mohammed bin Salman abuses in Saudi Arabia have worsened, and the human rights situation is as bad as ever, with a number of draconian sentences handed down in Saudi courts over the last year.
In August, Leeds University student Salma al-Shehab was sentenced to 34 years for having a twitter account and sharing posts written by dissidents and activists.
In the same month, Nourah Saeed al-Qahtani was sentenced to 45 years in jail for “using the internet to divide society.”
In March, the mass execution of 81 men took place, to condemnation from around the world.
In February, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine led to Roman Abramovich being placed under sanctions which effectively banned him from owning Chelsea. This led many to question whether Saudi Arabia should be allowed to own Newcastle, especially in light of their brutal war in Yemen. When this question was put to him, Eddie Howe struggled to respond, but we all know the answer – of course they shouldn’t.
While Saudi Arabia has not changed at all, the identity of Newcastle United and its supporters has been transformed. Supporters now wear the shirt that was inspired by the Saudi national team’s colours. Fans have saluted the governor of PIF when he attended his first game, and some defend Saudi policies on social media. In January, the club was criticised by Amnesty International when the first team squad travelled to the Saudi city of Jeddah for a mid season training camp. Newcastle United is now tied to Saudi Arabia in a sense that previously would have been unthinkable. Meanwhile, the issue of the club’s ownership continually generates negative headlines, and fans of Crystal Palace and Mainz have protested against us.
After one year of this ownership, we can say with certainty: the Saudis will never be fit and proper owners of our football club, and Newcastle United cannot be a club to be proud of until they are gone.
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