As we know by now, there have been objections to the takeover of Newcastle United which we are told is currently underway and seemingly fairly advanced.

The main objection targets the involvement of the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund who, if the deal goes through, are taking an 80% holding, with the Reuben Brothers and Amanda Staveley’s PCP taking 10% each.

Amnesty International have pointed out the Saudi government’s awful human rights record, Kashoggi murder, bombing of Yemen (although strangely no-one raises the fact that the bombs are flogged to them by the UK ….)

Amnesty’s letter to Premier League Chiefs states: “Saudi Arabia is attempting to use the glamour and prestige of Premier League football as a PR tool to distract from the country’s abysmal human rights record.

“There’s a name for this – it’s called sportswashing,” which is a term used to describe countries using sporting events or franchises to improve their reputations.

Qatar-based television channel beIN has also weighed in to the argument by asking the Premier League to block the potential takeover, accusing Saudi Arabia of playing their part in pirate broadcasts of matches.

There is also a suggestion that the “establishment” in the English Premier League, and in particular the small band of clubs who tend to dominate this league, are less than happy to allow the emergence of Newcastle United from it’s slumbers, particularly with the sort of financial clout that will dwarf all of the others added together.

Throughout history, controversy has always raised its head when politics in particular are mixed up with sport. My earliest experience and recollection of this is from 1968 when I witnessed Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise the gloved fist at the olympics to signify the “black power” movement.

Whilst as a socialist, I clearly share the criticism of the Saudi regime on it’s human rights record, I personally feel that these objections to the takeover must not succeed as they are political and have nothing to do with the history or present day activities of Newcastle United.

Years ago, we had a slogan which covered this sort of issue – “keep politics out of sport”. That slogan rings as true today as it did then.

Politics and sport have to be kept separate. Politics should never be allowed to influence sport in any way.

The English Premier League are currently deciding whether the proposed new owners will pass their suitability test as acceptable owners of a football club.

If for any reason they decide against the new owners, I hope they realise what this will mean in practice?

– demands that the same standards are applied retrospectively to other clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City

– questions as to why these objections were not an issue when the Saudis got involved with Sheffield United

– the possibility of a court case being brought against the EPL in which a lot of skeletons might well be dragged out of their cupboard and much dirty washing hung on the line!

Hopefully common sense will prevail and the takeover will be given the green light.

We will know soon enough as an announcement is expected by 1st May at the latest.

What do you think? As ever, we would welcome your comments, opinions and views below.

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