British football club Newcastle begins a new era with Saudi Arabian owners

Wearing a simulated Arab headdress, Chris Greenslade, between the twigs from a bottle of Newcastle Brown Ale, he proudly embraced his club’s new status as one of the richest sports in the world. rice field.

“We are Saudi Arabia,” said 41-year-old Newcastle fan. “We can afford anything.”

Fans’ delights and celebrations took place only before Sunday’s match against Tottenham at St. James’s Park, before the new era owned by Saudi Arabia was announced and reality began.

Callum Wilson preempted Newcastle just 107 seconds before the host collapsed and lost 3-2 and stayed in the relegation zone. Players will have to spend a lot of money, along with the new manager, as the crowd requested.

Newcastle fans need to accept their long-unachieved clubs, often reluctantly involved in the moral maze of state-owned ethical sports, in order to receive an investment. Accepting the wealth of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth funds and eliminating long-deprecated owners means an unwelcome attachment to the darker side of the kingdom.

“You’re going to get something like that there,” says Greenslade, pointing out the car decorated by name.Jamal Khashoggi“Along with an image of a journalist killed at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. There was also a picture of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia involved in a horrific plot. Mohammed Bin Salman..

Premier League-Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
A van runs outside the stadium with a photo of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in protest of the takeover of Newcastle United Action Images.

Reuters / Lee Smith

“Is there evidence?” Greenslade said. “Are you nailed?”

US intelligence said he believed the killing of a US-based Saudi journalist was due to the order of the Crown Prince, who heads the Public Investment Fund, which now owns 80% of Newcastle. Airplanes owned by PIF’s company are said to have been used by Saudi assassination forces. Prince Mohammed denies cheating.

Saudi Arabia’s Adele Arshanmari, studying at a university in Newcastle, was amused and watching while Van was traveling around St. James’ Park.

“That’s fake news,” he said. “believe me.”

Al Shanmari was worried when Khashoggi’s fate, his body, and the investigator’s discovery were raised.

“I know the story. It’s not what you think,” he said. “That’s another story. It’s hard to explain.”

Premier League-Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur
Newcastle United Chairman Yasel al-Lumayan and part-owner Amanda Staveley stood on the pre-match stand.

Reuters / Scott Heppel

This corner in northeastern England is the latest extension of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to enhance Saudi Arabia’s image through investment in sports.

“Visit Saudi Arabia and ask the people there,” said Al Shanmari. “You will find the truth.”

For now, full-time Saudis in the United Kingdom are discussing, but the club’s new part-time president, Yassel al-Lumayan, uses his Excellency title to serve as governor of the PIF board, which is governed by the Saudi minister. I am.

Abdulrahman Alshmasi traveled to Newcastle from the city of Birmingham in central England where he was studying and saw a club he began to support when a long-term acquisition was completed within two weeks.

“It’s now the wealthiest club in the world,” he said. “Hopefully they will be one of the best European teams.”

This is the first trophy since the FA Cup in 1955, after 14 years of limited investment owned by retail tycoon Mike Ashley, as well as local fans eager to be competitive in the field. Hope.

Matty Ward gave up his season tickets and returned three years later on Sunday after being fed up with the lack of cash spent on the team.

“It’s just great, I’m really happy,” said 18-year-old Ward, wearing a red and white checkered headdress that imitated Saudi Arabia. “Giving your club a little hope, that’s the purpose of football … to be able to believe in your club again.”

Fans like Ward may try not to go deep into the Saudi controversy highlighted by activists like Amnesty International who tried to block the deal.

“Human rights are clearly a concern. If something proves, we expect it to be treated appropriately and thoroughly,” Ward said. “But as long as there is a clear separation between it and the club, I haven’t seen a problem.”

“We have received a legally binding guarantee that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control the Newcastle United Football Club,” the Premier League said in order to approve the stalled sale last year. PIF’s corporate ownership structure does not explain that in the Premier League or why it needs a guarantee, but it does.

Amanda Stabley, who mediates the deal and now owns 10% through the investment vehicle, participated in a Sunday match with Al Lumayan, who was introduced to the crowd to defend the new ownership and cheer. ..

One complex factor in allowing buyouts was the Premier League seeking legal means to stop piracy of television related to Saudi Arabia, which was eavesdropping on footage from Qatar-owned beIN Sports. This year, the resolution of the broader Gulf diplomatic dispute has removed the impediment to change of ownership, notifying that it is no longer banned in Saudi Arabia.

It is unknown how long it will take for Newcastle footage to celebrate the trophy to be broadcast worldwide. Earn 3 points in 8 games and spend until January’s transfer period to strengthen the team to the penultimate place by “dismissing in the morning” of fan-sponsored Steve Bruce coach Cannot be started.

Fans like Greenslade, who stopped coming to the game 10 years ago, are hoping for a better era and are looking for tickets that are hard to get again. He says that coming to the stadium on match day is enough to start getting excited about the outlook for an exciting era “after 14 years of absolute dross.”

When the squad is rebuilt, he is ready for a slow rebuild.

“As long as it comes, it can take 10 years,” he said. “What is (the player) coming for? At the moment it’s just money.”

British football club Newcastle begins a new era with Saudi Arabian owners

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