IAN HERBERT: Desperation for glory means Newcastle fans can brush aside horrors of Saudi human rights record with a ‘this is about football’ approach

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  • Newcastle under £305m new ownership through Saudi-led consortium
  • The takeover took place on Thursday after being given up by the top-flight
  • Saudi Arabia’s human rights record has raised question marks over the move
  • Newcastle fans insist they are so desperate for success they can see it from behind

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It was the place that became a symbol of the working class struggle in this city, which you really understood why a brutal, misogynistic Saudi regime was somehow able to dress up as a knight in shining armor. Is.

They are acutely aware of the arguments about Saudi human rights abuses at the West End Food Bank, a half-hour walk straight from the graffiti-stained, trash-laden streets of St. James’s Park. But the need to cling to something, in the midst of the daily purification of life, overwhelms it all.

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When you don’t have anything you need a team. They make you feel different when they win,’ says Sonia, outside the brick food bank building immortalized in Ken Loach’s film I, Daniel Blake.

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Newcastle fans raised £305m. Celebrated the acquisition of his club by the Saudi-led consortium for

Questions have been raised about whether Saudi's human rights record is a fit for a club

Questions have been raised about whether Saudi’s human rights record is a fit for a club

‘You don’t have to be in the games to feel that. You talk about these rights and those rights, but this is our life. Team is life for some people here.

The need for something to address the quotidian conflicts has intensified more than ever this week, as a reduction in Universal Credit payments has driven entire families back to the food bank on Benwell Grove. There is desperation that Mohammed bin Salman can capitalize on, as he makes the club a vehicle to hide the truth about his regime.

In St James’s Park, the London-based Saudi TV crew is already garnering praise for that regime, leaving even the local Chronicle newspaper behind to interview any Saudi Newcastle fans.

They’ve rounded up Mark and Paul, a few Geordies who have come in Arab headgear, and another supporter, Joan Ayers, who here is inked on the back in a homemade robe with dealmaker Amanda Stavley’s name.

Takeover dealmaker Amanda Stavley (left) was instrumental in completing the move

Takeover dealmaker Amanda Stavley (left) was instrumental in completing the move

The Saudi crew are extremely happy with themselves, however. sportsmails As soon as he is asked about any local bribes against bin Salman’s human rights record, his conversation turns into a testy affair, including the murder of disgruntled journalist Jamal Khashoggi and his rebuttal with a bone saw.

‘Your country is a murderer,’ replies a male Saudi journalist. ‘Ask yourself about British human rights. The way Britain has killed people by coming to the Middle East.’

His female colleague suggests that the money Saudi Arabia has given Britain for weapons has propelled this country forward.

According to undisclosed US intelligence files, this border aggression appears to be more reason to pressure his fellow journalist, Khashoggi, to consider being killed by 15 of bin Salman’s henchmen.

The murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi (above) is a major point of Saudi controversy

The murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi (above) is a major point of Saudi controversy

‘We don’t know the whole story. We must wait for the full story,’ says the male journalist staggeringly. Here, in the microcosm, what we can expect from new owners when they come in search of praise and find themselves in a field of awkward questions. Those challenges may be limited, given that the Newcastle LGBTQ group was also taking a positive stance on Saudis yesterday.

The United With Pride group spoke about Newcastle’s “potential to have a positive impact to improve conditions for the LGBTQ community” in Saudi Arabia and “how the country recently relaxed some laws for women”.

His statement shows that homosexuality is banned in Saudi Arabia.

Mrs Ayres, a wise, outspoken 39-year-old, was also dispelling the uncomfortable truth about how the club’s new owners treat women like themselves.

Newcastle fans argue they are absolutely desperate for a new set of ambitious owners

Newcastle fans argue they are absolutely desperate for a new set of ambitious owners

She said, ‘I have my views on it and I don’t want to talk much about it. ‘Yes, it would have been nice if there was another buyer who would have been more suitable, but you don’t know how desperate we have been for so long.’

There were voices of dissent from some without any attachment to the club. Like Valerie Jones, outside a nail bar near the stadium, to which Saudi Arabia ‘has no space to be associated with. I don’t like it’.

A walk through Newcastle’s weary club shop showed just how easy it would be for new owners to score quick points here. It’s been a medium for Mike Ashley to shift merchandise, and looks like little more than that.

Mike Ashley (above) was the owner for 14 years, but became unpopular among Magpie fans

Mike Ashley (above) was the owner for 14 years, but became unpopular among Magpie fans

Images of players are barely visible on the ground floor. The Sports Bar Next Door and Gallogate Stand fascia are equally carefree.

The hugely influential Chronicle now finds itself walking a tightrope, knowing the truth about the new owners, as well as serving an audience unanimously in favor of the deal.

The paper took up the issue on the back end of an editorial yesterday, declaring that ‘the City of Newcastle will not shy away from challenging anything that detracts from our proud record of tolerance’.

But for most Newcastle fans, ‘it’s about the football’, that editorial concluded.

Newcastle fans are now looking forward to a possible improvement on the pitch at this time

Newcastle fans are now looking forward to a possible improvement on the pitch at this time

The Premier League neatly sidestepped questions about Khashoggi’s death and Saudi women’s troubles and jail time, insisting that the takeover vehicle is separate from the country’s state. Even though the Sovereign Wealth Fund of the country holds 80 per cent stake in the club.

But it is among the people of Newcastle, desperate for some happiness, that bin Salman will find an open target. The majority of the scene was of Mark, one of the fans wearing the Arabian hat.

He said, ‘I have served in the army and have lost my comrades in the Gulf.’ ‘I know Iraq and Saudi Arabia is a much better place than that. I am happy to call him my friend.

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