Newcastle fans are starting to organise against the takeover of their club by the theocratic Saudi dictatorship. A campaign called ‘Sack the Saudi dictators! RECLAIM the Game and NUFC!’ has been set up in the face of an extremely well-financed PR machine which has tried to silence opposition to the dirty deal. Mohammed Bin Salman aka the ‘the butcher of Yemen’ has his cyber henchmen using thousands of bots on social media to close down criticism of their appalling human rights record.
Unfortunately, Tyneside media have fallen into line with this blatant sports-washing. Unbelievably Labour council leaders and MPs in the region have not condemned the deal. In this situation, a majority of fans are on the fence, but others are now linking up to discuss a campaign programme and how to fight back.
The Saudi dictators are unfit and improper owners of Newcastle United Football Club. The Public Investment Fund is an arm of the Saudi regime and no state, especially this one, should be allowed to own a football club, which has its origins in working class culture.We refuse to sit back and allow our club to be used as a pawn in this mammoth effort of sports-washing and rebranding of the dictatorial Saudi regime. Political representatives on Tyneside should be doing their job by holding the Saudi regime to account for their heinous crimes.
As fans we call on the Premier League to implement a transparent and open ‘Fit and Proper’ review of ALL clubs involving fans. Fans groups and fanzines can play an important role in discussing alternative ownership of NUFC and all Premier League clubs. As a minimum and a start we support the 51% golden share model of fan-led club ownership.
Progress can be rolled back
Football has come a long way regarding racism, sexism and LGBT+ rights, although with clear problems remaining. However, the Saudi takeover of NUFC puts that progress in danger. There can be no double standards. We support human rights at our club and in Saudi Arabia. Solidarity with all people who are oppressed by the new (hopefully temporary) owners of NUFC is vital. Groups like Kick it Out and Show Racism the Red Card should condemn the racism and antisemitism of the new owners.
Press and media in the North East of England should stop acting as a mouthpiece for Saudi state propaganda. Beheadings, discrimination against LGBT+ people, arrest, torture and abuse of women activists, exploitation of bonded labour and war crimes in Yemen are not mere ‘issues’ but gross human rights abuses.
We call on all NUFC fans to reject the Saudi regime’s takeover. The longer the dictators stay, the more they will stain our club’s reputation. Join us in the fight to reclaim NUFC and football in general.
The Saudi takeover has implications for all of football, which go far beyond our club, so we need to link up with fans of other teams. We will be organising meetings and protests in the coming months and call on NUFC fans and others to join our campaign to sack the Saudi dictators!