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Opinion

‘Newcastle United – The acceptable face of oppression’

5 months ago
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If Boris Johnson wanted to buy a stake in Newcastle United, would you be happy?

What about Saddam Hussein?

Maybe a consortium of Sunderland fans?

No? Why? 1. Tory 2. brutal dictator, and you don’t need me to explain the final one.

Would you be willing to overlook certain facts, as long as a new owner invested in your team?

What about if Boris Johnson (pictured above with Jamie Reuben, son of David and nephew of Simon, who are all involved in the NUFC takeover as well) was a billionaire?

If Saddam promised to lure Mbappe with a blank cheque?

A consortium of Sunderland fans who splashed the cash, renouncing their red and white ways?

Would that change your answer?

What about if during his time as PM, Boris Johnson introduced public executions?

Routinely tortured prisoners?

Oppressed women?

Saddam did. And the House of Saud do.

If you do not know who Raif Badawi is, look him up.

If you not know who Loujain al-Hathloul is, look her up.

If you do not know Dawoud al-Marhoon is, look him up.

You will know who Jamal Khashoggi is.

PIF itself is simply a tool to distance those in power – chiefly Mohammad bin Salman, the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia – and therefore the ones who drive the abhorrent treatment of so many of their citizens, from the investments it makes. Be under no illusion though, any purchase PIF makes is made with the same bloody hands as those who killed Khashoggi and so many others.

There is a reason why PIF are attempting to buy Newcastle United. It is, as ever, about public image. A damaged reputation looking to be salvaged. An inwardly facing attempt to present an alternative truth, far removed from the reality. It is not for the benefit of Newcastle United.

Fans may say they are aware of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and do care. That’s fine, I do not doubt that; but if this deal is allowed to pass without scrutiny from the set of supporters who so doggedly pursued Mike Ashley for 13 years, then it is a stain on them. Because they just do not care enough and they are willing to overlook it.

There is a palpable sense of…it’s happening halfway across the world, so it’s nothing to do with us ‘guv.

Here’s the thing – what if Dawoud al-Marhoon was a 17-year old Newcastle United fan who had been sentenced to die by beheading for allegedly taking part in protests against the government? There would be an outcry; he would be seen as “one of us”. His Newcastle United allegiance meaning he suddenly becomes relevant. All too easy to ignore if there is no connection. All too easy to sweep under the carpet.

These issues now concern Newcastle United as a football club. Like it or not, you are about to become connected, whoever you are, fan or employee.

What happens if things start to go wrong? Disillusionment rears its head and there are protests against the new owners?

Will human rights issues be used as a stick to beat them, as has been the case with Ashley? Or will it simply be because of a lack of investment in the team?

If this comes to pass then it is to the eternal shame of those who suddenly become moral guardians of what is right.

To fail to at least acknowledge or have a grown up conversation about this now – not later – would in essence be an admission that PIF will only be scrutinised when it suits Newcastle fans.

The club will now simply become…Newcastle United – The acceptable face of oppression.

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