‘Saudi PIF Newcastle United takeover can lead to club being a positive influencer’
I was inspired to write this article after reading another article on The Mag regarding the potential Saudi Newcastle United takeover and ownership of the club, if the PIF takeover goes through in the future.
Whilst I agreed with many of the author’s points regarding the murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the human rights record of Saudi Arabia, I came to a different conclusion.
Rather than it being the reason why Newcastle supporters should be against a Saudi PIF Newcastle United takeover, I see it as one of the reasons why we should still welcome a Saudi takeover.
Nobody likes what Russia did with MH17, Litvinenko, the Skripals, the treatment of gay people in their own country etc, but we still do business with them as a country and allow Russians to own homes, businesses and football clubs here.
Nobody likes what China is doing to Uighar Muslims, the people of Hong Kong etc, but we still do business with them as a country, allow the Chinese to own property, business and football clubs here.
It is less than 100 years since the start of World War Two, where the Germans, Japanese (and many others) carried out far more numerous atrocities than those we are talking about presently, yet the world allowed those countries to make amends. The world allowed those countries to move forward and did not forever freeze them in a time period where their previous actions meant they would never be allowed to recover as a nation.
German ownership of anything, be it a football club or a car manufacturer, is these days seen as something of a pinnacle (recent VW diesel scandal aside), yet in terms of history it is not all that long ago they were the worst of the worst in how human beings were treated.
Does Saudi Arabia have a lot of catching up to do? Of course they do, but if we only focus on their past atrocities how will they ever get better, even if you feel they can’t make amends, surely they can improve? To really improve though, there has to be line drawn where old and new is clear.
Although I do believe PIF are separate to the Crown Prince and the State, I have no doubt PIF were given their blessing in the quest to buy Newcastle United, despite the fact the Crown Prince and the State would have known that it would not only re-open the criticism on the Khashoggi murder, but also guarantee future scrutiny from the Western media. The Crown Prince would have known that ownership of a EPL club by PIF would have to mean more transparency on a range of subjects to the media (from all over the world) and yet he is still in favour of the PIF deal.
I think Saudi Arabia are reaching a point in time where they want to be more than just someone who has to pay for any influence they acquire, they want to be taken seriously in their own right politically, and to do that they know they will have to align more of their values with more progressive countries.
So we come onto what role a Newcastle United takeover has in all of this.
Well for me it can be as simple as the club and the region having a positive influence on women’s rights. Female supporters, female stewards, female bar staff, female Police Officers, the Newcastle Women’s football team, all of this will show the people in Saudi Arabia that we value the equality of women’s rights highly and that somebody’s gender should not exclude anyone from being anything they want to achieve or aspire to. Future female NUFC board members and female members of NUST would also greatly help in this regard.
That is just one very small issue that the club and its supporters could be a positive influence on, there will be many more. So perhaps it is time to give Saudi Arabia a chance to improve its record and move forward, rather than using their record as a reason to hold it in limbo. The world has allowed other countries to move on from worse.
A Saudi PIF Newcastle United takeover can lead to the club being a positive influencer.
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