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Opinion

Arsenal fans 14 years too late as they debate Newcastle United takeover and whether politics and sport mix

5 months ago
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Many Newcastle supporters will have noticed Arsenal fans today debating the (hopefully) imminent takeover at St James Park.

An article appearing on an Arsenal supporters website asking: ‘How would Arsenal fans feel if Saudi Arabia bought us instead of Newcastle United?’

The article is actually largely quite decent (see extracts below) and fair, making some reasonable points, as well as the odd not so reasonable one.

However, there is one glaring omission.

Whilst at times being critical of his own club, the Arsenal fan writing the article misses surely the key point he should have been basing the whole piece around.

Yes, question how he would feel about the likes of the Saudi regime putting money into Newcastle United, or indeed Arsenal or any other club.

However, for any Arsenal fans not to mention the Emirates in any debate on politics and sport, is simply embarrassing.

Where would Arsenal be without the hundreds and hundreds of millions pumped into them by Emirates?

Emirates first signed a sponsorship agreement with Arsenal in 2004, providing the airline with naming rights to its then-brand new stadium until 2021 and a shirt deal that began in the 2006 season.

In 2018 a new five year shirt sponsorship deal was announced extending the relationship to at least 2024 and that one deal was worth well over £200m on its own. How many hundreds of millions more than that, which Arsenal have benefited from, you can only guess. Certainly a total far in excess of what the Saudi PIF are paying (£240m) for an 80% stake in Newcastle United, if the takeover goes ahead.

I must have somehow missed the outrage and demonstrations these past two decades from Arsenal fans disgusted at their club being financed by such a regime.

Emirates is owned by the unelected rulers of Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, where proper democracy doesn’t exist.

In Dubai, being gay is illegal, sex outside marriage also illegal, cross-dressing as well, any of these things could see you put in jail, whilst people are also still executed in the UAE.

Arsenal fans carry the Dubai regime (Emirates) on their replica shirts, their stadium is covered in it of course as well.

They don’t need to worry about any moral dilemma if the Saudi PIF were going to take over Arsenal, supporters of the Gunners have been happy to benefit from almost two decades of money from a disgusting regime already, so what would be so different?

The same with Manchester United fans, their club is already well and truly sports washed thanks to state owned Saudi Telecom being their longest running commercial partner, starting in 2008 it is still going.  The Saudi regime then opening up another very lucrative deal for Manchester United in 2017, under the guise of the ‘General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia’ deal.

I don’t blame fans of these other clubs for just getting on with it and thinking that this is just the state of play, that they just get on with supporting their team and don’t get a vote anyway on who owns and sponsors their club.

However, it would be embarrassing if Arsenal fans or those at other clubs that have done nothing of significance (boycotts, demonstrations etc) and have benefited via cash from questionable sources, to then start and criticise Newcastle supporters for looking forward to the replacement of Mike Ashley with ambitious new owners.

Extracts from ‘How would Arsenal fans feel if Saudi Arabia bought us instead of Newcastle United?’ article on justarsenal.com:

‘The Premiership’s decision on whether Saudis Arabia’s Public Investment Fund can buy Newcastle affects every club in England, and not just because it would mean the Toon could outbid everyone in terms of transfer fees and wages.

You see some things are bigger than football.

If the League gives the green light or doesn’t, it affects the image of one of the UK’s biggest brands, as well as sending a potential message to any billionaires out there who want to purchase a club.’

‘Geordies might say sport has nothing to do with politics, yet when it suited their agenda, they were always pointing out how Mike Ashley was treating his Sport Directs employees. I guess it’s different when one man wants to spend money and the other doesn’t?

Yet can you criticise? Would a lot of fans turn the other cheek if it meant they had a chance of seeing their team be champions?’

The assumption has to be that pre-season tours will suddenly be arranged in the likes of Jeddah. How do fans from a working-class city feel about travelling to a place where you can get arrested for being drunk or flogged for adultery.’

‘I have been so vocal about our American owners that I would then feel dirty celebrating a takeover from an owner who treats people the way he does.

Simply because he’s going to spend lots of money, I couldn’t ignore that.’

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