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Journalists call for Saudi Arabia PIF to answer key questions on Newcastle United

1 year ago

The Saudi Arabia PIF takeover happened exactly a year ago today.

The departure of Mike Ashley wildly celebrated by Newcastle United fans, difficult to believe that after 14 years of wilful neglect and utter contempt for the fans, he was finally gone.

Along with minority shareholders the Reuben family (10 per cent) and Amanda Staveley and her husband (ten per cent), the Saudi Arabia PIF (80 per cent) takeover at last getting the go ahead by the Premier League, following the settling of TV piracy issues by the Saudi government.

On the eve of the first anniversary of the Newcastle United takeover, Saudi Arabia PIF Governor and NUFC Chairman, Yasir Al-Rumayyan sent a one year on appraisal / message to Newcastle fans…

Newcastle United official twitter – 6 October 2022:

“Ahead of tomorrow’s one year anniversary of the takeover, NUFC chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan has written an open letter (ED Read HERE) to our supporters.”

This was met with predictable responses from many journalists.

Especially those sports journalists who DON’T normally cover Newcastle United as part of their job BUT have regularly commented on the identity of the club’s owners over the course of the past year…

Adam Crafton (The Athletic):

“Be cool if he marked it by attending a fans forum or taking questions from the media rather than letting the 10% owner or head coach take them.”

Whilst as for those journalists who DO normally cover our football club as a matter of course, this one maybe summed up their position best…

Luke Edwards (The Telegraph):

“A real shame we have not been able to ask any questions to any of the owners this week but this confirms much of what was promised 12 months ago.

“As a journalist I want to be able to ask things and challenge when necessary.

“In my nature to do so.

“Ambition is clear though.

“Here is a taste of the questions I’d like to ask.

“How are you going to navigate FFP?

“What are the plans for the new training ground?

“Would you like to extend the stadium?

“How important has Eddie Howe been?

“Why is the women’s team important?

“Will you spend again in January?”

Taking first, those who regularly cover Newcastle United as part of their job. Perfectly understandable where Luke Edwards is coming from.

However, as is usually the case, those in charge (of football clubs and other organisations) often prefer to use only hand picked trusted journalists to put out messages on their behalf, often anonymously.

So earlier this week we saw George Caulkin and Chris Waugh, who both cover Newcastle United for The Athletic, with the scoop. They had spoken to ‘sources’ inside the club in great detail and had been given all kinds of exclusive updates as to the past, present and future when it came to the Saudi Arabia PIF owned club. The exclusives included updates on the plans for the brand new training complex and improvements in the meantime to the current one, there was news of a potential new St James’ Park stadium partner, as well as many other NUFC positive updates.

So, for our friend from The Telegraph, it is never going to be ideal when the preferred trusted journalists for the Saudi Arabia PIF owned club, are those from another part of the media.

Turning to those such as Adam Crafton (also The Athletic, ironically) who commented (see above) about the Yasir Al-Rumayyan letter to Newcastle fans. He is one of those who, along with the likes of Miguel Delaney (Independent), Tariq Panja (New York Times) and other usual suspects, have relentlessly commented purely on the politics of the situation at Newcastle United, regarding the identity of the owners. Occasionally with well structured articles containing some fair points regarding the Saudi Arabia PIF majority ownership of Newcastle United, however, more often than not, just cheap and embarrassing one liners on the likes of Twitter, on a regular basis purely with the aim of having a go at the Newcastle fans and / or provoking them into responding to boost their (the journalists in question) profile / visibility.

Thankfully we do live in a country where the media is allowed to question those in authority, whether they be politicians or football club owners. So, unless breaking libel laws for example, journalists can write / say what they want about those who own Newcastle United or any other club.

However, that is not the same as having the right to access, when it comes to football club owners.

The really laughable thing is that the likes of Adam Crafton (or Delany, Panja etc), as he makes out with his comment above, is they want to present it as though it is extraordinary that the Saudi Arabia PIF Governor and NUFC Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan, isn’t making himself available to personally answer all questions that journalists might want to ask.


Can you remember all of those times that Roman Abramovich made himself available in an open forum to journalists? What about Malcolm Glazer in the years after he took over Man Utd, Sheikh Mansour at Man City, Kroenke / Usmanov with Arsenal, Joe Lewis at Tottenham…

The reality is that any Premier League club owners, the main men (or women) at the very top of the tree, who have made themselves totally open to answer any questions from journalists, are very much the exception.

Luke Edwards makes clear that he wants to concentrate on football specific questions and getting answers on them. However, as we all know, this is completely unrealistic.

If there was a free for all and any journalists could attend and ask questions of Yasir Al-Rumayyan, we all know 100 per cent, that the big attraction for certain members of the media would be questions about the politics of the club ownership. A hundred questions could be asked about football BUT the one(s) about the Saudi Arabia PIF ownership, would make all the headlines.

If only certain journalists were invited and none of them asked questions about the Saudi Arabia PIF ownership, then the big  headlines for much of the media would be the failure to ask those questions, with the journalists in question ridiculed by others in their profession.


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