Don’t believe it. Don’t want it.

Flicking through social media this past week, there was a story ran by the Chronicle and Shields Gazette which brought to my attention a claim (from a seemingly random journalist) that Saudi investors are interested in buying Newcastle United. Finally, after years of bleating on about things I am not qualified to talk about, I can write a Newcastle article on a subject I am qualified to write about.

Quite frankly, any takeover talk that originates from the usual sources are simply BS. I am writing this to save others the hassle in the future of being reeled in or having their hopes raised by any such rumour of an Arabian prince taking over at Newcastle United.

Having just completed an MA dissertation on Saudi Arabia, improved my Arabic, preparing a PHD on Saudi genealogy and created my own Saudi family tree software – you can take my word on Saudi investment in football teams. In short, don’t believe it, and most importantly, don’t want it.

There is no doubt that some fans will look at teams such as Manchester City and PSG, who have benefited enormously from investment that derives from the Arabian Peninsula and think “why can’t that be us?” Of course, winning trophies is what football is all about, and especially at Newcastle United there will be some fans who would sacrifice everything for one glorious day at Wembley in May.

It is important to understand that Gulf investment in football is not about making money, a phrase that would no doubt make the hairs on Mike Ashley’s back stand up. Simply put, in the case of Qatar and UAE, money from oil and gas is used as a tool to promote the self-perceived national identity of gulf states. In the instance of Manchester City and PSG, they are used as pawns by the owners to promote their respective countries to western audiences in the exact way they want you to view them.

As nations who want to connect with the community, like what Manchester City are doing in the greater Manchester area, as well as gaining international recognition like what we see in Paris, the two gulf takeovers have so far proved a massive success. The connections the Qataris have established in France have been integral in maintaining relationships during their non-violent war with the Saudis and UAE.

The acquisition of football clubs is politics via different means, in academia we refer to it as soft power. Football is the most popular game on earth and if you get it right, then it is an easy way to deflect negative stories away from human rights and workers towards how great your football team is. When you think of Sheik Mansour, you picture a happy looking fellow wearing a suit at that one Man City game don’t you? In essence, that is how it is intended to work.

So surely the Saudis are looking at the success of Qatar and UAE in this area and thinking, ‘hey, that might work for us’…

Since early 2015, the Saudis too have been placing greater investment in many sports from WWE, to football, to even electronic F1. However, reports they are interested in Newcastle United, or any Premier League club for that matter, are simply not true.

At the present moment, the only Saudi ownership in the UK is at Sheffield United in which Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad acquired a 50% stake in the club. However, despite Sheffield United’s promising performances on the pitch, bin Musa’ad’s ownership has been plagued with problems, which culminated over the summer in a court case between himself and other owner Kevin McCabe.

Sure enough, any other potential football club owner, which would almost certainly be a fellow Al Saud (from the royal family) rather than a non-family private investor, would likely look at the experience of bin Musa’ad and be put off immediately.

As mentioned, the reason why the Qataris and the Emiratis have focused on western Europe is because of the strong football culture that exists there. They want to tap into large demographics because in cities like Manchester and Paris, if you give their football team success, then they will look favorably on you in other areas of life. Football in these cities is everything. Many males in Paris, one of the most strategically importance cities in the world, now look favorably on Qatar.

The Emiratis or the Qataris may not be making money, but it is one of the best investments you can make.

Yet the Saudis are the opposite. The most recent Saudi acquisition of a football team is in Egypt, in which Turki Al-Sheikh, who is essentially the country’s sports minister, bought a lowly Egyptian team and changed them to Pyramids FC. A key difference being, you could never get away with that in Western Europe.

For the Saudis, buying a club like Newcastle United, where every single thing is scrutinised with a fine toothcomb, is the exact opposite of what they want. Saudis want to be discreet, they don’t want the attention, they don’t want westerners looking into the affairs. They simply don’t want the mass circus that comes with owning a Premier League football club, and Newcastle United is the finest example of that.

The key point here is that I saw many Newcastle fans on social media reacting positively to reports the Saudis may take over from Mike Ashley. This is where a key problem lies. If you oppose Mike Ashley on moral grounds, then it is important to understand that his treatment of workers at Sports Direct Shirebrook resembles the plot of the film Daddy Day Care when you compare it to the record of the Saudis in just about every basic human right you can think of.

Even if you are unaware of current affairs in the Gulf, imagine Mike Ashley but bigger, badder and giving less of a damn.

Getting rid of Mike Ashley shouldn’t be about replacing him with a billionaire Arab owner or someone who is going to spend lots of cash to take Newcastle back to the Champions League. It should be about a new owner who is the exact opposite of Mike Ashley. An owner with ethics, morals and honesty, just as much as ambition and passion for the team..

For the moment anyway, I would urge all fans to ignore the takeover rumours because they simply won’t be true. They are used by Keith Bishop’s KBA as a mechanism to quell fan unrest in the short-term. Simple as that.

When it comes to the Saudis though, don’t believe it. Most importantly, don’t want it.

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn

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  • mentalman

    Good luck finding a billionaire with ethics morals and honesty

    • Wor Lass

      Yeah, Andrew Carnegie died 99 years ago.

  • Themoscow72

    There has been interest in buying Newcastle but the individuals have not found the backers. Most fans have no interest in who is Chairmen if the team is winning.
    Barry Moat, Amanda Staveley and Peter Kenyon have not come up with the goods.
    The best way forward if for Mike to reduce his loan which will give him a better chance of selling the club provided we stay up. No boycotts just support the team as that will not help find a buyer.
    Wolves tickets on sale Monday 29th October I am buying six.

    • Paul Patterson

      Oh good, you’ll be easy to spot,

      • Themoscow72

        They are for friends we have a box.

        • Paul Patterson

          That doesn’t surprise me. The bit that does is that you have ‘friends’.

          • Peaky

            Does he not mean he has the box set of “Friends” ??

          • Paul Patterson

            I have seasons1-6 then it got a bit s**t so I stopped. I think after season 11 of Ashley I may do the same.

          • Themoscow72

            Yes some of Newcastle’s finest in there. With the protesters about in the ground it’s safer to be in there as already been banned twice under Ashley.

    • TheFatController

      The interest of buyers is not there because they know Ashley will use any strength to mess them around.

      They will be waiting til he loses any of those strengths and then bid, when they call the shots, not when he can move he goalposts and try to manipulate them.

      Why would any businessman buy a club on the way down at £400m? Surely they’d wait till it bottomed out and buy it for significantly less …

    • Tweed Mag

      That will be five empty seats next to you then . . . .

    • East Durham Mag

      What a f*ckwit

      • Leazes.

        Are you using the Roger’s profanisaurus?

        • East Durham Mag

          Indeed i am Leazes. That particular phrase is an excellent term for this fool.

  • Paul Patterson

    Ok, the Saudi’s are dodgy. The Russian’s? They’re dodgy. The Indian’s? They’re dodgy. The Malaysian’s? They’re dodgy.

    Our current incumbent is DEFINITELY dodgy and we have experience of it.

    We’re running out of options if we mistrust everyone.

    • Toontaff

      Our cowboy owner is dodgy!

    • Leazes.

      No …. some of them are dodgy, some are open to democratic scrutiny and law …… and others are the law.

  • Steve Smith

    Your argument is non sequitur.

    The Saudis would be in the market for a premier league club for soft power reasons – Check

    One of the key reasons for them not going for a club like ours is that they would be under intense scrutiny – Check

    If they were to take over they would follow the same vein as Mike Ashley but on a worse scale and care even less what we as fans think – Car Crash

    If the Saudis took over they would be bending over backwards to maintain a positive image. I don’t understand why you would conflict all your previous statements.

    • Leazes.

      True, the essence of what he say’s is right but as I said its not for PR….its investment for influence…. it political clout.

      ……and don’t believe its true anyway…. they would have to invest enough to knock Arsenal or Spurs out of the picture, as there’s only so much reward in the league.

  • Wor Lass

    That`s the trouble, Jonathan. Noone with enough money swilling around to buy a PL club is going to be ethically “clean”. As Paul says, below, they`re all dodgy. At least in the two main examples the arab owners are acting ehtically there and benefitting the communities in Manchester and Paris. I know Manchester well and the development in and around Sport City has improved that area no end.

    • Leazes.

      You know Manchester well…hey so does Fleckman! and his Brother!

      • MrShack66

        He should rename himself to Our Kid.

        • MrShack66

          Only joking Wor Lass.

      • Wor Lass

        Yeah, but, to be fair, I`ve never had a night out on Canal Street (or `an*l `treet as it`s known) so I won`t have bumped into them! Both my son and daughter used to live there so I got to know it well. It`s a great city. The things disqus won`t allow – the list`s getting longer and longer.

        • Leazes.

          So Clarko is your daughter then?

          • Wor Lass

            Ha ha. I hope you didn`t vote yourself up on that one, Leazes. Now, if he/she had called themself Clarkette ….

  • Leazes.

    Spot on Jonathan…… We have a few things in Common.

    Why did the USA attack Iraq after 911 when the hijackers were Saudis?….. someone had to pay! The USA declared war and destabilized regimes it had helped into power to stop fundamentalism.

    It isn’t just that the Saudi’s transfer oil wealth into investments in the west for PR but also security, securing their power and grip of these feudalist family concerns…… it was said that their investments account for a huge chunk of the stock on Wall Street….. so its not just good PR…. its transfer of oil wealth to tangible assets.

    It gives them political clout in the countries they invest in.

    • Kenny


  • Fisherking

    I settle for dopey from the seven dwarves if it gets rid of that FCB

  • Toontaff

    Let’s hope they ask Mike to a meeting at a Turkish embassy, with that specialist amputation surgeon in attendance – though they may find it harder to remove our leader’s fat lard a$$!

  • HarryHype59

    No one is interested in a Championship bound club! Fatty has really fuc*ed it up this time, to use a line from the Mumford and sons song!

    • Leazes.

      shut up

      • MrShack66

        No that’s by Madness.

      • HarryHype59

        Oh..I do hope thats a song title and not aimed at me!

        We’re on the road to nowhere (Talking Heads)

        Should be the NUFC match day song.

  • Kenny

    How many Premiership owners have morals & honesty, over to you leazes

    • Leazes.

      All of them….. bad morals and little honesty…. its relative, nobody thinks they are a bad person, except maybe Michael Jackson.

  • killymag

    You could have spent your time at UNI more productively researching where we find a ethical billionaire . And on your failure to do so , spent the remainder of your time there with a shovel , digging up Lord Leverhulme or Sir Joseph Rowntree

  • BigHairyDog

    At this stage i’d take Donald Trump over Ashley, at least he’s got a “no lose” mentality even if he’s a capitalistic ****. The damage is done and nothing Ashley is prepared to do will repair and reverse that damage. A change is needed, fresh blood and owners that aren’t tied to years of asset stripping, lies and deceit.

    • Leazes.

      I wouldn’t…… surely the way out of the mess is change the laws on ownership, marginalise the oligarchs and malevolent…. we have to find an answer to the nonsense of rich men buying titles.

      • molend

        You’re right. Some form of fan ownership for all teams. But how do you get there?

        • Leazes.


  • Tweed Mag

    The Saudi story was made up – no substance to it. Just as Kenyon/Rich Americans were and there is now doubt over PCP. The Greenock Morton story ran for two days and then disappeared. In all of this academic research, was anyone actually spoken to? Any reliable sources other than historical data and Wikipedia?

  • Martin Rooney

    All of that very true, so whats the solution the most successful clubs in the uk in the last five years chelsea and man city both have very dubious owners with horrific abuses of power that make MA look like a wus, however these clubs are those that the vociferous nufc protesters wish to emulate.
    That says more about, nufc fans mentality, than anything else.

    • Billmag

      You can go to any social media outlet you wish and not one NUFC fan wishes to emulate the two clubs you mention, 99-9% of fans would like a level playing field with the likes of Huddersfield, Bournemouth, Burnley, Brighton, and the rest in the bottom ten.

      • Martin Rooney

        Our players are better than theirs it’s more the way they are played, we also had even better players last year and have better players on loan elsewhere.

        • Billmag

          Rubbish, but there again I shouldn’t be surprised at the response from you.

          • Martin Rooney

            Very cutting, terribly hurt.

          • AhDivvinNahNootMe

            “He’s my husband and I love him. I got this bruise by walking into a door”. You’re such a victim.

          • Martin Rooney

            Sarcasm ya daft get

  • Leazes.


    • FatParosite

      Funny how the comical have gone dead against a boycott isn’t it….?? Waugh is an unconscionable kernt….

  • Mike

    Saudi or Russian who cares

  • JohnnyH

    Martin Rooney = pezza/Clarko/rob brown/realist/mentalman

    • Wezza

      The trolls are now resurfacing after their IP got blocked but I’m writing to the admins to get their new usernames blocked again. These two behind it are very very sad individuals who apparently at least one works for SD!

      • Pezza

        Brilliant Wezza, a little question, on what basis do you want these people banned? They have far more interesting things to say than you.

        Which one works for SDi?

        Whilst a few have just got a new ID and returned, one hasn’t bothered. He happens to write for WSC, Four Four 2 as well as non football matters. The fact these guys were banned by the Mag ruins the credibility of the Mag but there is an article written which could just make the fanzine and the Mag team look a laughing stock.

        You are not very bright, that’s not a crime but don’t be a vindictive Knut bucause you can’t keep up. Try learning from these guys rather than follow the crowd led by the intellectual greats of Jezza and Leazes’.

        We are unable to post your comment because you have been banned by The Mag. Find out more.

  • FatParosite

    Success is getting rid of Ashley… But do you think there really are any ethical owners of there…?? Besides fine tooth comb is not what I’d call the current premiership leaders raison d’etre… Many clubs including Citeh are allowed to get away with financial murder so long as they pour money into the product…. This is another careful what you wish for… Which is too close to KBA’s stop wishing mantra.

  • JohnnyH

    Football is just a cesspit now,

    Anyone with a few hundred million to throw at What is Just a ‘plaything’ for them, has got to be dubious.

    The pigs that run football don’t care about criminal or corrupt activity in another country because they’ve all got their snouts in the same trough.

    It’s a utopian dream to think that we’re going to come across a super rich upstanding kind and benevolent new owner after we get rid of the waste of life.

  • Brian Standen

    Your article is eloquent, knowledgeable and a fascinating insight …….. however I would take any ‘Coco the Clown’ from any nation as owner if it meant losing the buffoon who has infected his desease into NUFC for the last 11 years!