An exclusive on Saturday has brought news of the latest move from people trying to stop a Newcastle United takeover.
The Independent reporting (see below) that they have seen a joint letter to the government from 16 MPs and peers, urging the government to take action.
The newspaper says that the MPs and peers from various parties have come together to ask the government to intervene and prevent the Saudis using Newcastle United to ‘sportswash’ their regime.
To be honest, I don’t have a problem with this, or at least I wouldn’t have if they, and others, got similarly outraged about Saudi investment elsewhere.
If the Newcastle United takeover went ahead, the Saudi PIF would be paying £240m for an 80% stake in NUFC.
In very recent times, the Saudi PIF have paid far more for each of the stakes they have bought in Facebook, Twitter, Disney, Uber, BP and many others. Yet we never hear of any campaigns, or even critical mention about these, certainly not noticeable to your average person.
You might say those are different, not using Premier League football to legitimise the Saudi regime.
However, where have these MPs and peers (and countless others) been when for 12 years (and counting) Manchester United have been letting themselves be used to legitimise / sportswash the Saudi regime? The Old Trafford club bought off with many tens (hundreds/) of millions of Saudi government money?
I can’t find a single negative comment, never mind campaign, from any journalist, politician, whoever, regarding this Manchester United / Saudi government benefit. Go on, google Saudi Arabia Manchester United, then see if you can find one word of criticism.
The Saudi Arabian regime have been helping to fund Manchester United since 2008, the Saudi government providing Man Utd’s longest running commercial partner, their deal with state owned Saudi Telecom beginning 12 years ago and still current.
In 2017, another Saudi government revenue stream began for Man Utd, the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia going into partnership with Manchester United.
These deals seeing a Premier League club profit by many tens of millions of pounds (as a minimum), in return for these state run / owned Saudi enterprises being able to have the Manchester United brand splashed all over them, helping to legitimise / sportswash the regime.
This new letter from MPs and peers fails to mention Manchester United’s relationship with the Saudis and the ‘exclusive’ from The Independent is the same.
It is beyond belief how this Newcastle United takeover is being viewed as totally different to any other Saudi investment. Why do human rights issues only apply at St James Park?
The Independent report:
‘A group of 16 cross-party MPs and peers have written to the government raising concern over the threat of sportswashing in the UK amid the Saudi Arabia-funded takeover of Newcastle United.
The politicians – including former Labour leader Neil Kinnock and Conservative MP Sir Peter Bottomley – have said that the £300m takeover, which would see the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia acquire an 80 per cent stake in the club, is a vehicle to distract from the country’s human rights record.
The letter, seen by The Independent, cites allegations surrounding the regime’s involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, the jailing of human rights activists, the use of online espionage and Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the Yemeni Civil War.
The group, spearheaded by the Fifa Ethics and Regulations Watch, urge the government to “take an active lead” in preventing sportswashing in the UK and develop a more stringent fit-and-proper-person test to stop the alignment of companies and regimes with poor human rights records with the Premier League.’