Protestors against Newcastle takeover unveil Jamal Khashoggi billboard at St James' Park

Newcastle’s new Saudi owners faced protests ahead of the first game under their leadership as a van was parked outside St James’ Park highlighting the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi

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Newcastle United: What will the takeover mean?

Protestors opposing the recent Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle made their feelings clear before their clash with Tottenham on Sunday.

The game at St James’ Park was the first under the new regime and, in keeping with the mood around the city this past week, the atmosphere was, on the whole, a positive one.

The £300million takeover was confirmed last week and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment fund has made the Magpies the richest club in the world.

However there has been strong opposition to the takeover due to the human rights issues in Saudi Arabia and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

A van was spotted driving around the stadium with an image of Khashoggi and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a message on the side of that read: “Murdered 2.10.18.”

Protestors parked a van outside St James’ Park before their clash with Tottenham

Human rights organisation Amnesty international have stated the deal was an attempt to “sportswash their [Saudi Arabia’s] appalling human rights record with the glamour of top-flight football.”

Thier CEO Sacha Deshmukh said: “Instead of allowing those implicated in serious human rights violations to walk into English football simply because they have deep pockets, we’ve urged the Premier League to change their owners’ and directors’ test to address human rights issues.

“The phrase ‘human rights’ doesn’t even appear in the owners’ and directors’ test despite English football supposedly adhering to Fifa standards.

“As with Formula One, elite boxing, golf or tennis, an association with top-tier football is a very attractive means of rebranding a country or person with a tarnished reputation.

“The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules.”

Newcastle lost 3-2 but the game was overshadowed and halted after a fan collapsed in the stands before being rushed to hospital.

A host of Premier League club chiefs have also stated their opposition to the takeover.

The Guardian claimed that the rest of the league have hit league officials with complaints and one of their concerns is that the reputation of the league could be tarnished by allowing Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) to take an 80-per-cent stake in the club.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp also spoke out about the situation, likening it to a Super League type scenario, which was widely condemned earlier this year.

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He said: “What will it mean for football? A few months ago we had a massive argument – issue – the whole football world, with 12 clubs trying to build a Super League. Rightly so.

“It didn’t happen, but this is kind of creating a super team if you want. It’s pretty much the same; guaranteed spots in the Champions League in a few years time. Financial fair play nowadays, nobody knows exactly if it still exists or not.

“Newcastle fans will love it but for the rest of us it just means there is a new superpower in Newcastle. We cannot avoid that.”

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