Newcastle and ‘the requirement of good repute’: How the Premier League accepted the unacceptable

The Public Investment Fund, or PIF, sovereign fund of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, president: HRH Mohammed ben Salman ben Abdelaziz Al Saoud, or MBS, therefore has nothing to do with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ruled by the prince heir HRH Mohammed ben Salman ben Abdelaziz Al Saoud, or MBS.

It must be true, since it is the Premier League that says it.

It is true that if this had not been the case, the Premier League would have struggled to endorse the purchase of Newcastle United by a consortium in which the PIF controls 80%, as it did on October 7. Indeed, the Saudi kingdom does not satisfy the “requirements of good repute and competence“which every PL club owner is forced to prove. In his case, given their grim record in terms of human – and women’s – rights, it would have been impossible for the Saudis.

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But then, how then, by what sleight of hand a takeover that had been refused by the Premier League a year and a half ago became possible “with immediate effect” ?

Because the PIF, you see, has nothing to do with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its crown prince. It is therefore only a coincidence that the Saudi barbouzes who kidnapped, tortured, killed and dismembered journalist Jamal Kashoggi in Istanbul in October 2018 had traveled from Saudi Arabia to Turkey and, job done, from Turkey to Saudi Arabia, in two planes belonging to the PIF.

Accomplice, the Premier League?

If the Premier League says so! And if the figurehead of the consortium Amanda Staveley, in which the firm PCP now holds a 10% stake in Newcastle United, assure that it is indeed the case! “The Premier League has received legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United

“, we read in the press release published by the PL on October 7.

Because if the Saudis say so, how can we not believe them?

So here we are in a situation that has something – almost – comical. The PL knows that the ‘assurances” from Staveley and his almighty associates are not worth a penny. Staveley and the Saudis know the PL is not fooled. I know you know he knows you know, ad infinitum, but “let’s just pretend,” because it’s just a matter of ticking boxes, not establishing a truth that everyone knows right off the bat. In fact, the PL is an accomplice. And a bit embarrassed, it seems.

Newcastle supporters, Thursday 7 October 2021 in front of St James’ Park, on the announcement of the buyout of their club

Credit: Getty Images

All the requests for an explanation made to him, by journalists as well as by associations for the defense of human rights, have so far remained unanswered. Incredibly, the other nineteen shareholders of the PL – since the PL is an LLC in which each elite club owns a share, the FA having the 21st – had only been made aware of the operation. once it has been concluded, without ever having been consulted (**).

The involvement of the future majority shareholder of Newcastle United in acts contrary to the most basic of human rights, whether in Saudi Arabia or Yemen, where its fighter planes bombed the civilian population, was in any case not there. obstacle that the first attempt to buy Newcastle by the same consortium came up against in 2020. This obstacle was the hacking of PL images by the beOUTQ network in Saudi Arabia, with the consent of the MBS regime.

The fans also made the choice to lie to themselves

And now that Saudi Arabia has patched up – for the moment – with Qatar, and that beIN Sport, legitimate holder of the rights to the English championship in the region, can again broadcast its programs on Saudi territory, it There was no longer any reason for the PL to refuse that the PIF acquire the club from Mike Ashley. Except these damn human rights, decidedly very embarrassing. But since the PIF is independent of the regime …

In this funny play, all the characters and all the actors are Tartuffes, Tartuffes who are fully aware that their hypocrisy and their lies do not deceive anyone in the audience – with one exception: those spectators who want to play the game, because it is in their interest to do so, even if deep down in themselves, they are not fooled and know that they are being played on. But they accept it, they will be the “useful idiots” of the trick. These spectators are these Newcastle fans – not all of them, far from it – who, if the PIF, Staveley and the PL lie to everyone, have made the choice to lie to themselves.This leads them to contortions that they would have been incapable of two weeks ago. The group that represents the LGBTQ + community affiliated with Newcastle United, United With Pride, thus cracked a lunar press release in which we can read, among other things, that “the fact that in this investment [les Saoudiens] ,have collaborated with Amanda Staveley says they are influenced by our culture of respect, equality and tolerance

“. Not a word in this text, on the other hand, by Mohammed Al Bokari, sentenced to 10 months in prisonto get “violated public order and morals“by a Saudi court. His crime? A tweet.”Everyone has rights and should be able to exercise them freely, including people who are gay

“, he had dared to write.

Everyone decided to lie

And that’s how sportswashing works. The fans – those who let themselves be bewitched by the prospect of becoming “the richest club in the world” – accomplish this strange metamorphosis whereby they are no longer – only – fans of their club, but also of its owners. From now on, to speak of MBS as a dictator will offend them.

Des supporters de Newcastle

Credit: Getty Images

Any football journalist who dares to question the Saudi regime’s involvement will become the target of orchestrated social media campaigns, as has long been the case for anyone who does the same for the UAE regime and is immediately attacked by the United Arab Emirates. battalions of defenders of Sheikh Mansour, the owner – to say the least nominal – of Manchester City. Some have already added a Saudi flag to their profile onTwitter

. Others had disguised themselves as Bedouins (they believed) to celebrate the takeover of Newcastle at Saint James Park. They crossed the threshold of this universe in which “fan” is indeed the diminutive of “fanatic”, and bad faith has turned into unreason.

It is said to have entered the age of “post-truth”. The expression is misleading in this case, because everyone here knows the truth. But everyone also decided to lie.

The remaining 10% is owned by the RB Sports & Media group of brothers David and Simon Reuben, holders of two of the largest fortunes in the United Kingdom, and who have not said a word in the affair. The Reuben’s prefer to grow their billions in the shadows: their last interview they gave dates back to 2003. (**)This has led them to demand that the PL organize an emergency meeting,

as The Guardian revealed last Friday


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