Thursday the seventh October was a ground-breaking day in the Newcastle United’s history. Club confirmed that they have been sold from Mike Ashley’s ownership to Saudi Arabian government backed the Public Investment Fund.
The takeover was worth of £305 million. PIF’s listed chairman is Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman.
Takeover made Newcastle most wealthy club in the world. I looked at how the British media reacted to the news.
The Guardian journalist David Goldblatt pointed out that Football has changed from national game to political sports. Saudi Arabian Newcastle-owners are another billionaire ownership after Manchester City’s Sheikh Mansour and Chelsea’s Roman Abramovich taking control of a traditional English football club.
Goldblatt equated the case to earlier English political conflicts. In April the Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed the fan protest, which stopped the European Super League as his own victory.
Goldblatt also understood Newcastle’s reasons to sell the club to the Saudis. The club had experienced continuing failures under Ashley. After missing European football regularly and failing to establish their brand to the global audience, Newcastle had fallen behind of big clubs in London, Manchester, and Liverpool.
Ashley’s plan to run the club like business and sell it for profits was only enough for mediocrity.
Telegraph’s headline for the takeover story was: “Saudi Arabia’s Newcastle takeover branded a bitter blow for human rights”.
Telegraph spoke to Hatice Cengiz. Her husband a journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. PIF chairman Prince bin Salman has been claimed by CIA for ordering the murder, but he has denied it every time. Cengiz still is continuing to pursue a lawsuit against him.
Cengiz blamed Premier League letting the Prince wash his reputation using sports as power.
Telegraph also interviewed human rights company Amnesty International’s chief executive officer Sacha Deshmukth, who were worried how English football clubs are used to sports-wash the human rights abuse.
Athletic senior writer Oliver Kay criticised football’s hunger for money. The sport doesn’t anymore care where they’re money comes from.
Kay made an interesting comparison to sports clubs in American professional leagues, which would have been economically more fruitful for groups like PIF. He praised the American franchise system based on salary caps and draft systems. The system is not least yet rotten by multibillionaires washing-money.
Kay questioned how football has lost its moral code for money and power. As an example, FIFA made country like Qatar the host country, who has controversial reputation on human rights, women’s status, and rights of sexual minorities.
Athletic writer covering Everton Greg O’Keeffe compared Newcastle’s takeovers similarities to Toffees. In 2016 Everton was taken over by billionaire Farhad Moshiri, who’s personal worth is estimated a little over £2 billion. The club has since hired director of football, had six managers in five years and bought high-profile signings with high wages.
Everton paid on last season £200,000-plus a week wages to James Rodríguez, who moved out of the club after one year.
Without playing European football, wealthy clubs can make mistakes spending ridiculous transfer fees for signings, which might won’t not fit in their system. Even Newcastle achieved limitless transfer funds, they are not yet in state to attract the biggest household names.
Right now, names like Jesse Lingard and James Tarkowski have been linked to the Magpies.
In conclusion most British media focused on the negativity around the takeover. Prince Bin Salman’s notorious reputation, sports-washing and lack of morality were common angles on each of the stories.
Currently the fans are more excited of the takeover than media. After declining years with Ashley, they are hungry to achieve success for any cost.