Yesterday the takeover of Newcastle United finally went through.
Following a court case, a Saudi Arabian-backed consortium bought the club for £350m from Mike Ashley.
The Newcastle fans celebrated like they had one the lottery.
Part of the celebrations was due to the departure of Mike Ashley – an owner they have hated from almost the day he took over.
The other part of the celebrations is that they see the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) takeover as a a quick route to winning the league.
Their fans have seen Chelsea, Manchester City and PSG bank rolled to success. And the wealth of the PIF blows all of their owners oit of the water.
They think being owned by PIF will see billions spent on new players and the side bankrolled to their first league title since 1927.
But at what cost would this success be bankrolled to and should fans care?
Amnesty International have urged the Premier League to review their decision and take into account the horrendous human rights issues in Saudi Arabia. They state:
“As with Formula One, elite boxing, golf or tennis, an association with top-tier football is a very attractive means of rebranding a country or person with a tarnished reputation. The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules.”
We have mentioned sportswashing numerous times in this blog.
From day one when Roman Abramovich took over Chelsea I questioned whether someone who built his wealth in questionable circumstances should be applauded.
When Alisher Uzmanov looked to take over Arsenal, I took the stand that I did not want his kind involved in Arsenal.
I would rather win nothing than be bankrolled to success by someone with Usmanov’s questionable history.
At Manchester City, the ‘Manchester thanks you Sheikh Mansour’ banner has always left a sour taste in my mouth.
Sheikh Mansour is a member of the royal family of Abu Dhabi and deputy Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.
The 2021 Human Rights Watch reportfor the UAE makes grim reading.
Manchester City fans turn a blind eye to what is happening in the UAE. The lack of democracy, modern slavery. These things seem to not matter when you are winning trophies.
And the same is seemingly happening at Newcastle.
Their fans seem to not care about the human rights abuses that occur on a daily basis. They just want to be bankrolled to success.
How many of their fans joined a BLM March over the last 2 years. Have pointed out corruption in the Conservative party. Have spoken up against racism and inequality in the UK.
How many of their fans have tweeted that slave owners statues in the UK should be taken down – meanwhile they celebrate slave owners buying their club.
PIF probably will bankroll Newcastle to their first trophy since 1969. It will be written as another glorious story of a sleeping giant returning to its glory days. A bit like Manchester City.
Personally, I would rather win nothing than be owned by a state with a horrendous human rights record that is basically using my club to wash over that record.
I would rather win nothing than be owned by a former KGB agent that earned his billions during the break up of the Soviet Union.
Hopefully I am not alone in this. I have my morals and they will not change regardless of my football clubs success.
But many people do not seem to care who owns their club as long as they are being bankrolled to success.
So I ask the question; should football fans care where the money comes from?