Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle heartbreaking, says Kashoggi


Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle heartbreaking, says Kashoggi
FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator holds a poster with a picture of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi outside the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Osman Orsal/File Photo

In Summary

  • Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.
  • Western intelligence agencies believe the crown prince ordered the murder - which he denies.
  • "I am very disappointed," said Hatice Cengiz, who was set to marry Khashoggi.

The fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi has said the Saudi Arabian-backed takeover of Newcastle United is “heartbreaking” for her.

Khashoggi, a critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was killed while visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Western intelligence agencies believe the crown prince ordered the murder – which he denies.

“I am very disappointed,” said Hatice Cengiz, who was set to marry Khashoggi.

“What I’ve been doing since his murder is seeking justice for Jamal every day, every chance that I found or every place I can go and ask more.

“Then suddenly, I saw the news and people were talking about the takeover and I said ‘please, do not do that, please be respectful to yourself’.”

The Premier League approved the £305m takeover of Newcastle after receiving “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not control the club.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF), of which Mohammed bin Salman is the chair, will provide 80% of funds for the deal and is seen as separate to the state.

The Saudi Arabian state has been accused of human rights abuses, but with the majority owner PIF deemed a separate entity, that, and any piracy issues, were no longer an impediment to the takeover, in the Premier League’s view.

PIF have assets of £250bn, making Newcastle one of the richest clubs in the world, but Cengiz said she wanted to remind supporters that there are more important things than the club’s financial health.

“It seems like they [Newcastle fans] don’t care about what happened to Jamal, they just care about the financial future,” added Cengiz, speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast.

“I want to remind them that there is something more important than money, that there is something more important than the financial situation of this club.

“There are really more expensive values that we have and we need in our life always.

“You should send the message to them that they cannot buy any English team because of this crime – it is the clear message that every English person should send them.”

She added: “We have to remind them of what they did to Jamal, because no-one was held accountable, so in other ways we should punish them.

“At least respect the soul of Jamal, because he paid the really high price for the freedom of speech.”

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said he was “very concerned” about the Saudi-led consortium’s takeover of Newcastle and stressed the need for an independent regulator to improve the governance of football.

“Tracey Crouch, a Tory MP, has done a review into the governance of football – we are feeding into that, but I am worried about governance,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“I think we need an independent regulator – we have seen this with so many clubs now over the last year or two – we need an independent regulator and we need a different test for directors of clubs.”

He added: “I think it should be put through an independent regular because there are serious concerns about the human rights record.

“I am very concerned about this takeover.

“It’s not for me as the leader of the opposition to say who should own which football club, it’s for an independent regulator – that is the scheme we are putting forward, we are feeding into Tracey Crouch’s response, she’s respected across the House and the sooner we get that review the better.”

Report by BBC

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