After months of uncertainty and debate about its rights and wrongs (see Christina Philippou’s recent article) Newcastle United have finally been taken over by the Saudi government. No, sorry, my mistake, the PIF, the Saudi investment fund, nothing to do with the government then, I didn’t mean it, please don’t chop me up into little pieces.
The new buyer has claimed the decision-making process at Newcastle will be completely independent of the Saudi government and this has now been rubber-stamped by the Premier League via their Owners and Directors Test. This is, of course, a rigorous and foolproof test. Only the most demonic oligarchs and authoritarian state bodies are allowed through. We can breathe easy. There is absolutely no link with the repressive regime described by Wikipedia as: “The totalitarian regime ruling the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is consistently ranked among the ‘worst of the worst’ in Freedom House’s annual survey of political and civil rights. On 28 December 2020, the Criminal Court in Riyadh sentenced a prominent Saudi women’s rights activist to nearly six years in prison, drawing a renewed attention to the kingdom’s human rights issues.” No need to be concerned then, about the launching of half-time stonings on the St Jame’s Park pitch or whether a failing manager will be given not a P45 but a bone saw.