Amnesty International give ‘worrying’ Newcastle United verdict

There have been further calls for the ownership situation at St James Park to be re-investigated.

Amnesty International have reiterated their calls for the Premier League to re-examine the ownership situation at Newcastle United.

Newcastle United chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan co-owner Amanda Staveley.Newcastle United chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan co-owner Amanda Staveley.
Newcastle United chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan co-owner Amanda Staveley.

Over 17 months has passed since a consortium led by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund finally completed a protracted takeover at St James Park after the £320m deal was held up by several issues ranging from clarity over involvement by the Saudi state to issues with television piracy in the Gulf State.

Amnesty were vocal in their criticism of the deal before and after it was completed in October 2021, citing Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and use of the death penalty as their key reasons for opposing the Premier League’s move to green light the takeover.

There has been further criticism and questions asked in recent weeks after Magpies chairman, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, was described in a ‘sitting minister of the Saudi government’ and PIF were named as a “sovereign instrumentality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” during a court case involving the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, the controversial rival tour set up by the investment fund.

The Premier League are yet to comment, despite receiving“legally binding assurances that essentially the state will not be in charge of the club” when the takeover was completed - and Amnesty have criticised the league’s stance and repeated for further investigations into the club’s owners.

Economic affairs director, Peter Frankental, said on Wednesday: “A week on from the Public Investment Fund revelations, there’s been a worrying silence from the Premier League about the Newcastle deal.

“Nearly three years ago, we were warning that the league needed to strengthen its ownership rules to prevent state-linked overseas buyers using English football for sportswashing – yet nothing was done and now there’s an apparent vacuum at the top of English football on this crucial issue.

He continued: “During the time that Saudi Arabia has owned Newcastle, the human rights crackdown under Mohammed bin Salman has worsened – with freedom of speech now all but extinguished, grossly unfair trials and torture commonplace, and the death penalty being used extensively and with horrifying results.

“It’s surely unimaginable that the Premier League won’t re-examine the assurances made about the non-involvement of the Saudi authorities in the Newcastle deal, and the sooner this is announced the better.”

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