During this international break, along with some other regular contributors I was asked a number of NUFC questions about on and off the pitch stuff, my questions included – ‘Now coming up to 18 months since takeover, your thoughts on the Saudi Arabia PIF led ownership of our club?’

I had a bit of a lengthy answer to give to this question and so after a brief discussion with the Editor, it was agreed that this Newcastle United / Saudi Arabia PIF led ownership question, would go up as a separate article.

Football gave up its moral high ground long before it agreed to Qatar hosting the World Cup.

Journalistic integrity, if it every existed, is long dead and lazy hacks seem willing to recycle the same old stories, such as the LIV Golf court case, with a slightly different angle, rather than doing some proper investigative journalism.

When the £305 million (80% of that paid by Saudi Arabia PIF, £244m) that changed hands to purchase Newcastle United is measured against the UK’s, at least, £11 Billion annual arms sales to Saudi Arabia, you really have to ask why the focus is not being placed there?

Is this down to lazy journalism or is it an inconvenient truth?

Stopping arms sales to repressive middle eastern regimes may have a far greater effect on human rights abuses than constantly going on about Sportswashing.

Though it is arguably in the best interests of the Western World to have a repressive and stable regime in Saudi Arabia which guarantees oil supplies, rather than have a more liberal and potentially unstable one.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has only reinforced this world view.

It’s not as if the former owner of Chelsea or the current owners of Man City are greatly different from Newcastle’s majority shareholder.

After Sheikh Mansour (Man City owner for those who don’t know) was pictured hugging Bashar al-Assad (Syrian President and mass murdering tyrant) with a view to striking closer ties with Syria despite 11 years of civil war, there was little backlash against Man City or their fans. Strangely, Pep didn’t get asked about it once at his subsequent press conferences.

Did the revolving coterie of former Chelsea managers get asked every week how their owner’s rag to riches story had actually panned out?

It would appear, Newcastle fans are being held to a higher moral standard than those from other clubs, but it’s not as if we have a veto on who owns the club.

I wouldn’t say that I don’t care where that money comes from but when you look at the literally billions of unaccountable dollars that successive governments have allowed to be invested, by largely ‘unknown’ entities, into the real estate market in London and surrounding areas, essentially using it as a bank vault; the money Newcastle’s owners have invested in Tyneside is actually considerably less tainted.

Everyone knows where the money is coming from, it’s not smuggled into the country, it passes through banks, tax is paid.

As for what the Saudi Arabia PIF led consortium has done for our football club: they have brought back stability, re-engaged with the fans, brought back joy to St James’ Park, invested money, time and energy into all aspects of the football club. This in turn gives a much-needed boost to the local economy.

They have brought back hope to the region that this once great football club can once again challenge for Europe, compete in the cups and maybe even one day win something.

With regards to the impending change of shirt sponsor, if say the images recently circulated on social media showing an away kit with a Saudia logo on did prove to be real (always difficult/impossible to tell these days with photoshopping etc) – they certainly wouldn’t be something I would be investing in, but as long as we stick with black and white stripes for the home shirt they can do what they want with the away kits.

As for the potential new sponsor: is a Chinese Internet gambling company any better than what we will end up with next?

I am sure we’ll get totally hammered for it just like Arsenal are constantly (NOT!) getting hammered for their Sportswashing sleeve sponsor, Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda (and also an Arsenal fan).

Arsenal Visit Rwanda SignRwanda has an appalling human rights record, is one of the 20 poorest nations in the world, yet it’s ‘authoritarian’ president pays £10 million pounds a year for the sleave and training kit sponsorship agreement. Perhaps you just thought the “Visit Rwanda” messages on the digital signage at the Emirates were linked to recent Conservative government initiatives…

Just to be clear, no one is constantly criticising Arsenal, or PSG, for this.

No one asks Arteta about this at his press conferences but you can bet your bottom dollar if Saudia become our main shirt sponsor and the away kit looks like a double of the Saudi national kit, we’ll get totally nailed for this.

So that’s one of the heritage items touched upon – just in case you haven’t clicked beyond the club’s Fan Engagement page, there is a separate document that outlines how this will work in further detail.

On the final page is the following statement, which could actually be interpreted in two opposite ways: “The club agrees that the following ‘Heritage Assets’ will be in scope for fan discussion:

• First Team Home Shirt Club Colours

• Club Crest

• Club Name

My thoughts, for anyone who hasn’t already given up reading this politics masquerading as football garbage:

First Team Home Shirt Club Colours: We play in Black and White stripes. Do what you want with the 2nd and 3rd kit I do not care.

Club Crest: Having lived through a few different club crests I have no real strong feeling on this as long as it is in some way connected to the city.

Club Name: We are called Newcastle United and that should be a non-negotiable, no Hull City Tigers or MK Dons shenanigans here please.

Strangely, the stadium name is not mentioned as a Heritage Asset.

This probably means that at some point we will be hearing news of a stadium sponsorship deal.

My guess is that given the hostility to Ashley’s wholesale renaming of St. James’ Park that it will be something more along the lines of Spotify Camp Nou.

If it is done sympathetically and the money is used to strengthen the squad then for me it isn’t a deal breaker.

Source link