Newcastle United: Amnesty bid to block Saudi takeover of club

Newcastle United: What will the takeover mean?

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It was passed despite the Premier League being urged by Amnesty International to consider what they branded the Gulf State’s “appalling” human rights record. The purchase by a Saudi-led consortium was rubber-stamped after the state settled its piracy dispute with the league’s broadcast ­partner beIN Sports and gave assurances over who will control the club. It ends Sports Direct billionaire Mike Ashley’s tumultuous 14-year ownership.

The Saudis’ Public Investment Fund will own 80 per cent of the club while UK investors Amanda Staveley and ­property magnates the Reuben brothers get 10 per cent each.

Amnesty UK’s Sacha Deshmukh said the deal was “a clear attempt by Saudis to sportswash their ­appalling human rights record”.

Highlighting the jailing of activists and the 2018 murder of ­journalist Jamal Khashoggi, she added: “We’ve urged the Premier League to change their owners’ and directors’ test to address human rights issues.”

A proposal abandoned in 2020 due to the Premier League’s objections, would have seen Newcastle chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Sources say the new deal was only allowed after assurances the state will not be directly involved in running the Toon.

The club is now the world’s wealthiest with the Saudi PIF boasting assets worth £320billion. Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour was previously the world’s richest football club owner with a £23.3billion fortune.

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