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Home   /   What the papers say: Media reaction to the Saudi-led Newcastle takeover

Time has passed since the approval of Newcastle United’s takeover by PIF. Of course, Newcastle fans are ecstatic to see the doom and gloom of Mike Ashley’s 14 year tenure come to an end but how did the media react? Was there a mixed reaction or did the media react in one way more than the other? I investigated this subject using articles, reports and videos from Twitter, JOE, The Guardian and The Times so you don’t have to. 

It was early evening, just after five o’clock, many people had just finished work on Thursday and were looking ahead towards the weekends. Little did Newcastle fans know their weekend was going to get significantly better. Sky Sports announced the completion of the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle United.  

Newcastle fans reacting to the completion of the takeover.

Many fans gathered around St James Park and the city of Newcastle in their masses to celebrate the takeover by PIF. They flooded to social media to express their excitement, everything Newcastle related was trending on Twitter including Magpies, Newcastle United and ha’way the lads. It was almost impossible to not understand and feel some sort of empathy for Newcastle fans after witnessing the suffering under the Sports Direct owner who injected the absolute minimum into their club. However, you need to look deeper into the takeover, were the fans excited that they had a multi-billion empire take charge of their club or the fact that Mike Ashley was leaving. 

Wayne Farry’s, the Head of Sport at JOE, reaction was one of a misunderstood and perplexed manner. Wayne reacted negatively towards the reaction of fans regarding the Saudi takeover suggesting that Newcastle was being used to ‘launder the reputation of a murderous and despotic regime.’ Which brought himself to misunderstand why the fan would celebrate something so abhorrent. After reviewing multiple articles by JOE it was clear to see the angle they took with question marks as to why fans would support this brutal regime. Many articles included the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which is believed to have been ordered by Mohammed bin Salman, the chairman of the Investment Fund. 

The Guardian’s overall reaction to the takeover was negative, the phrase ‘faux morality of football’ featured multiple times in various articles, which shined a light on the suffering that is occuring in Saudi Arabia under PIF’s regime. The angle taken was explicit for readership, emphasising on the negatives of the takeover, drawing away from the positives and potential the new ownership could bring to making Newcastle United a club that can rebuild and compete at the top. 

The Times opted for a different approach compared to JOE and The Guardian. Their main focal points were spending opportunities, the future of Newcastle and potential new managers Newcastle could acquire to be the man for such a lucrative job opportunity. One article mentioned how ‘money was never going to be an issue’ for Amanda Staveley anymore who was staying in a £410 per night hotel on the outskirts of Newcastle whilst another stated that Staveley had declared Newcastle as becoming ‘as big as Manchester City and PSG’. Although the focus was different, there were still mentions of PIF’s brutal regime along with an insight from Jurgen Klopp who has questioned Premier League’s failure to address human rights concerns over Newcastle’s new owners. 

After reviewing a diverse range of articles and reports it’s clear to understand that the overarching approach to the Saudi Arabian takeover has been negative – difficult to shrug off the brutal activities of the regime and what it stands for. However, some media outlets have offered different reactions and attributed their focus towards the positives PIF can bring to Newcastle. An interesting read if you have the opportunity, as time passes the actions of the new ownership will become more apparent and I am sure this topic will remain at the forefront for a while.

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