More problems for Newcastle as supporters vow to raise Saudi human rights issues

It never rains but it pours at Newcastle United, and despite the club being on the verge of a takeover, supporters of the club have vowed to raise their opposition to their potential new owners alleged human rights abuses.

According to a report on BBC Sport, even though fans would support the takeover, one would expect because of the need to rid themselves of Mike Ashley, they won’t just sit back and ignore any other issues relating to the conduct of the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund.

“We exist to be a critical friend of the club, and hold them to account,” Alex Hurst, Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) chair, said in an online forum which involved over 2,000 fans and which was cited by BBC Sport.

The fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Hatice Cengiz, has opposed the takeover, and supporter, Greg Morrison, undoubtedly spoke for many, per BBC Sport, when he said: “I do feel quite conflicted. While we are not responsible for what goes on [in Saudi Arabia], we have to accept we are attached to Saudi Arabia and the issues attached to that.

“My plea is that fans don’t resort to allowing our club be used to justify or defend what goes on in Saudi Arabia, but accept and acknowledge that there are issues and encourage debate.”

Although it appears unlikely at this juncture that the takeover will be stopped, there are some serious questions that need to be asked around the ‘fit and proper persons’ test that it’s believed all club owners need to pass before having their applications rubber stamped by the relevant authorities.

Furthermore, can the supporters themselves feel genuinely happy that the club would be being run by those who have, allegedly, perpetrated quite disturbing acts, purely on the basis that their team might finally be challenging for trophies?

It’s a tough ask.

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