Khashoggi Fiancé Fights Saudi Purchase of Newcastle United

  • The Saudi dynasty is in talks to buy the club via its Public Investment Fund (PIF).
  • "It would emasculate the Premier League’s core principles and rules, and ruin its good reputation and character."
  • Amnesty International has also sent a disapproval statement.

Hatice Cengiz, fiancé of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, is fighting to stop a Saudi consortium controlled by its Crown Prince from buying Premier League football club Newcastle United. In a letter sent by her lawyers, she said that the Saudi acquisition would make English football complicit in Khashoggi’s assassination.

Newcastle United Football Club is an English professional football club based in Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear, that plays in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. The club has been owned by Mike Ashley since 2007, succeeding long-term chairman Sir John Hall.

She asked the Premier League to intervene and nullify the process. The Saudi dynasty is in talks to buy the club via its Public Investment Fund (PIF). The investment fund is overseen by the kingdom’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The PIF is currently awaiting approval from the Premier League, and if the request is granted, the fund will become the main stakeholder in the club. The consortium has already submitted a £300 million proposal.

The Premier League has the authority to block controversial takeovers if the potential stakeholder is found to have engaged in conduct that would lead to a conviction in the United Kingdom. According to Cengiz’s lawyer, Rodney Dixon QC, “the proposed acquisition is not just ‘business’ for the crown prince and the Saudi authorities, but an attempt to evade justice and international scrutiny for an unconscionable act.”

The solicitor has underlined that such an acquisition would compromise the integrity of the Premier League, and call into question its core values and principles. “It would emasculate the Premier League’s core principles and rules, and ruin its good reputation and character, to allow the crown prince and the Saudi authorities to use this acquisition to seek to repair their international standing,” he said.

The Public Investment Fund (PIF) is the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia. It is among the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world with total estimated assets of $320 billion.

Amnesty International has also asked the English Premier League to review Saudi Arabia’s human rights violations before allowing it to make the purchase. The following is an excerpt of the statement made by Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen.

“So long as these questions remain unaddressed, the Premier League is putting itself at risk of becoming a patsy of those who want to use the glamour and prestige of Premier League football to cover up actions that are deeply immoral, in breach of international law.”

Despite mounting evidence that Saudi Prince Mohammad Bin Salman ordered the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, no charges have ever been brought against him. The international community has also shied away from engaging in any justice-seeking maneuvers. Khashoggi was a prominent critic of MBS’ government. He was murdered in 2018 inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents.

The government said it was a rogue operation. It put 11 men on trial and sentenced five of them to death. The process was described by many judicial experts as the antithesis of justice because the masterminds of the operation walked free. The prince denied involvement but said that he would take full responsibility as the country’s de facto leader.

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Samuel Gush

Samuel Gush is a Technology, Entertainment, and Political News writer at Communal News.

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