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Controversial giant buy Newcastle ready - big party outside the arena after the club's transfer to Saudi Arabia - sport - svenska.yle.fi

Controversial giant buy Newcastle ready – big party outside the arena after the club’s transfer to Saudi Arabia – sport – svenska.yle.fi

The Newcastle Classic can suddenly be categorized as one of the most prosperous teams in the world. The state-owned Saudi Investment Fund, the Public Investment Fund, is the club’s new principal owner. “The decision shows that English football is keeping the door open for sports washing,” said human rights group Amnesty International.

The main objective is to hardly elevate Newcastle – a midfield team in the Premier League this season – to the glory days and title battles of the 1990s. That could be an outcome, but first and foremost, the Premier League could get someone to associate the Saudis with a football team in northern England and not systemic human rights abuses, Yle Sport’s Mats Ahlanas wrote in the spring of 2020.

Saudi Arabia’s purchase of Newcastle was already relevant last year. At the time, the deal did not materialize when the buyer candidate, Saudi State Investment Fund PIF, withdrew.

Now the same investment fund has made a new successful attempt. The Premier League confirmed the purchase on Thursday and Newcastle announced the change of ownership on its site.

When the deal was on the agenda last year, several clubs opposed it, while human rights group Amnesty International rallied against the league. The investment fund is managed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who was linked to the 2018 assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.

Celebration on the main square

The association says the purchase was approved after receiving “binding assurances that the Saudi state will not control Newcastle United”. The deal is said to be worth £300m and this means the investment fund owns 80 per cent of the club.

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The PIF is said to have a fortune of £320 billion – which means Newcastle can be considered one of the richest clubs in the world. In comparison, the fortune of the second richest owner in the league, Sheikh Mansour of Manchester City, is estimated at 22.9 billion pounds.

The decision shows that English football is keeping the door open for sports washing. Amnesty International’s campaign director, Felix Jackkins, told AFP that Amnesty had said from the start that this was an apparent attempt by the Saudi authorities to take advantage of the glamor of the Premier League to divert focus from the appalling human rights situation.

The news puts an end to unpopular owner Mike Ashley’s 14 years at the club. Outside St James’ Park at Newcastle, there was a full party after the announcement.