Saudi Arabian questions as we have been celebrating liberation

by Tony Attwood

Somehow, somewhere there has to be a hierarchy of priorities.  Because just in the nature of things, certain aspects of life are more important than others.

And so it is in football.  But unfortunately the hierarchy is upside down.

Consider this: what is the more important – the total abolition of human rights, of the breach of copyright?   Both may be matters that concern us (and as a writer myself, I have tried to ensure my rights under copyright law are protected).  But is that more important than basic human rights?  I think not.

Yet no one raises any objections to Saudi Arabia playing international matches, while its citizens are denied basic human rights.  No one objected to Saudi Arabia taking over Newcastle United on the grounds of a total lack of human rights in that country.

But when copyright issues turn up, oh yes, it is a fulsome all-out investigation into the Saudi takeover, and the chances are it might now be stopped.  Because of copyright.

Saudi Arabia has a criminal code which allows punishments include public beheading, stoning, amputation and lashing.

And these are not just handed down for murder or rape, they are also the punishments for theft, robbery the deliberate abandonment of Islam by a Muslim in word or through deed, adultery, witchcraft and sorcery.

The rules are enforced by the religious police who are separate from the secret police who are separate from the police.   Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have detailed the crimes of these organisations which operate as part of the basic framework of the state, endlessly.  No one seems to care.

Homosexuality is illegal and severely punished, there is no religious freedom, women are third rate citizens, there is no rule of law.

But hey, who cares, let Saudi Arabia take over Newcastle United.  Fine, go ahead.  No objections here.

Oh, but no, wait a minute.   Saudi Arabia as part of its cold war with Qatar runs a copyright-infringing TV station.  Right. Stop the takeover.

Isn’t there something utterly sickening about this: that human rights count for utterly nothing and we’ll play football against the most appallingly abusive regimes in the world, but when it comes to copyright oh well no that is a step too far.

Copyright is important, and I support the upholding of copyright law so that I get royalties on the things I have written.  But it is not more important than basic human rights.

If the Premier League had any credibility at all there would be a fit and proper persons test when there is a takeover of a Premier League club.

But oh, yes there is one, it is called the Owners and Directors Test and it is there to ensure that all the directors of a club are people will not damage the integrity and the image of the Premier League,

And the trouble with it is that it relates almost utterly to Directors.  It does not relate to owners.   Although in the rule book there is “Clubs: Finance and Governance Section F: Owners’ and Directors’ Test” the section on owners does not require the owners to be a fit and proper person. There are a few restrictions but none of the “fit and proper person” variety that apply to directors.

So virtually anyone can become an owner, and then appoint directors to do his or her bidding.

Now this allowance of anyone to hold a controlling interest in a club no matter what their human rights record is not something the media talk about.  But when it comes to copyright – oh yes the media wants copyright protected, so from day one that is the issue they have latched onto.  When the League’s media partner BeIN raised the issue, our media dutifully jumped to attention and started huffing and puffing about Saudi Arabia’s complicity in copyright theft.  Complicity in murder, repression, tyranny, torture, denial of basic rights?  No, not our business.  But copyright theft… wow, let’s get em.

So yes I do worry about copyright, and I do try to protect my copyrights, but I don’t put copyright issues above human rights.

And yet this is what our media does.  And why?  Because the media in the UK is always concerned about copyright, and it will always put its interests ahead of anything else.   Which is also why they don’t report the machinations of Fifa – stories that are making the news daily in Europe because they don’t want to upset Fifa in case England puts in another bid to host the world cup.

At a time when Britain has been celebrating VE Day and the victory over an appalling murdering regime which denied human rights to everyone it didn’t like, the Premier League is opening the doors to an appalling murdering regime which denies human rights to everyone it doesn’t like.   And our media has not said a word – except on the issue of copyright.

18 Replies to “Saudi Arabian questions as we have been celebrating liberation”

  1. Excellent article. But must say I do have a bit of a problem with the way our human rights are easily taken away from us in the last weeks. Now it is only for a while they say. But what if they take away our basic rights for a longer period? Yes there is a dangerous and deadly virus amongst us, but we have gone from a free society in to a police state over night without anyone really realising it. And without anyone really protesting that we have lost some basic rights. What if a governement thinks this is the time to put their population behind bars even without a virus? Or what if a governement tells us that there is a dangerous and deadly virus around the corner ?
    I think we now realise how quickly 1984 can become reality. After all the society was build on fear. Using fear to hold the citizens in line with the governement. And what is the biggest fear of people? Yes, the fear of dead. So tell the people they might get killed by (fill in as you like) and most people will swallow whatever they leaders say is needed. I really hope it doesn’t come that far ever but this has been a damn good excercise in how to drill the people in to a society where freedom has vanished. Our freedom is only a virus away from making us prisoners.

  2. Very valid argument put forwards in the article and in the comment from Walter. I am sure there was some copy in there for a bored journalist sitting at home wondering where the next pay packet might come from but it would seem not. Maybe it is time to take a closer look at ownership altogether in football. Bring on the German model with greater fan involvement. The one thing that is clear during this period of luxury house arrest is that we don’t have rights and that should be sufficient reason to open the discussion about what rights really are. I am sure our Bad Brother government will eventually get round to removing all our so-called rights thus ensuring we have no ability to examine the actions of prospective owners.

  3. Hi Walter hope you and yours are all fit and well.

    Sorry Tony you aren’t correct re no test being applied to owners.

    The PL and EFL clubs do indeed operate the Owners / Directors test but the ultimate responsibility lies at the FA.

    This document points out that anyone holding a30% share in a club, including PL clubs, has to go through the same tests as a director.

    Back to the PL rules re owners/ directors

    Here’s the relevant bit about an owners conduct. Would it be applied in respect of what you mention? Irrespective the FA wouldn’t have agreed to a takeover before all tests had been applied so the takeover I suspect was never agreed to and then reconsidered

    5. he has a Conviction (which is not a Spent Conviction) imposed by a court of the United Kingdom or a competent court of foreign jurisdiction:

    in respect of which an unsuspended sentence of at least 12 months’ imprisonment was imposed;
    in respect of any offence involving any act which could reasonably be considered to be dishonest (and, for the avoidance of doubt, irrespective of the actual sentence imposed); or

    in respect of an offence set out in Appendix 1 (Schedule of Offences) or a directly analogous offence in a foreign jurisdiction (and, for the avoidance of doubt, irrespective of the actual sentence imposed);

    F.1.6. in the reasonable opinion of the Board, he has engaged in conduct outside the United Kingdom that would constitute an offence of the sort described if such conduct had taken place in the United Kingdom, whether or not such conduct resulted in a Conviction

  4. Walter and Laos, in a time of public crisis or major disaster (ie: covid-19) such as foreign wars, natural disasters, public insurrections, civil war etc. traditionally the government has legislative authority and legal powers to behave in a more ¨restrictive¨ fashion BUT once the crises are past, normally the daily life of citizens returns to ¨normal¨. At the end of WW2, Britain kept the rationing in place for 4 more years. In Canada, we have the war measures act, which was used only once by our Prime minister when ther was a serious political crisis in Québec. Those measures were quickly lifted by parliament and I am sure any restrictions in the UK or elsewhere will also be lifted once the crisis is past. If not there are sufficient powers vested in local,regional and provincial government to contest unjustified continuance of such measures. I have less confidence in some Eastern block countries whose far-right divas prefer to keep a stiff hand on the public reins and dissuade any dissent.

  5. Mike T

    Hi there.

    What a relief to hear from you. I was getting worried about you. Found those examples I asked for yet?

  6. Nitram

    If you look on Bluemoon ( The Man City ) forum. You will find a thread with over 1000 pages. This thread deals with what City supporters believe is a media bias against their club

    The go to Spurs forum. They too have a thread that deals with their view of a media bias against them

    In terms of players being anti their old club the most obvious example of this would be Man Utd players and in particular Roy Keene, Paul Scholes, and on occasions Gary Neville

    What about my team Chelsea.

  7. I have not studied all of this for every club Mike but I have not seen another club do what we did with taking a short period of normal events (where Arsenal was not particularly engaged in something that would make headline news) we recorded every story in the media about Arsenal, and measured the number of positive stories, the number of neutral and the number of negatives. To do that for the top six clubs across one weekend is way beyond Untold’s capacity so we can only do it for Arsenal, and when we did we got a very strong negative bias.

  8. There is a lot of difference between feeling that the media is against your club and actually do some research. I may have missed it but I have not seen any research by these other clubs which shows this is anything other than feeling, whereas we did make an attempt, What we really need to see is other clubs’ fans doing similar analysis. If it then shows that every one of the major clubs suffers as we do then that gives a most interesting insight into the way the media works.
    Our analysis in detail is at

  9. Morning Tony

    Hope your well

    My posting was a follow up to my statement that most clubs supporters believe that there is a media bias against their club

    What it tells me is that most hacks are negative in their reporting and from a supporters view the media are anti just them.

    I don’t dismiss your s and others assertions but I could quote headline after headline that is telling a story that is negative re Chelsea .Many are justified for me as I said earlier in the other thread is that the Arsenal of today is not the Arsenal of the past and just like Chelsea stories the Arsenal stories fall in two categories the first absolute tosh but in the second category are many where there is an element of truth if not completely true

  10. Mike T

    a) My posting was a follow up to my statement that most clubs supporters believe that there is a media bias against their club.

    That is such a weak counter argument. I thought you was better than that. As Tony says, ‘believing’ something is a lot different to showing evidence that support’s that ‘belief’ and until you do that, that’s all it is, a ‘belief’. Some people ‘believe’ Elvis is still alive, should we take that as a credible argument without any evidence ?

    b) I don’t dismiss your and others assertions but I could quote headline after headline that is telling a story that is negative re Chelsea

    Go on then do it. Because that’s the difference. That’s exactly what Untold has done. I have personally done similar with link after link to article after article.

    So do as I asked before. Find Chelseas, or anyone else’s for that matter equivalent of, Robson, Merson, Wright, Keown, Smith etc. etc. who constantly criticise Arsenal.

    Find the equivalent to Adrian Durhams DAILY rant against Arsenal that went on for years.

    Find me the equivalent of Piers Morgan, a supposed Arsenal fan who has, as I showed earlier, used the Corona Virus to have at least 2 pops at Arsenal or their players.

    I showed you how on Sunday alone their was positive story after positive story about Liverpool and Spurs whilst the Young player story about us was completely ignored.

    You tried to argue that the source of the Youth Players story lacked credibility, as if a stories credibility has anything at all to do with it being repeated ad infinitum or not.

    To my mind that alone shows your complete lack of understanding of the point we are making.

    If that youth story was about Liverpool or Spurs for example, it’s lack of credibility, real or otherwise, would of had absolutely no influnce over whether it was repeated over the backpages or not. Since when has a hack needed credibility to justify a story?

  11. Nitram


    First here’s a comment from a previous posting of mine

    “As for good news about Arsenal it seems to me that just about every clubs supporters will argue a press bias against their club”

    Hence why provided the links to a few clubs forums.

    As for negative Chelsea headlines. Well let’s talk about the number of players out on loan, or what about RA not getting a visitor visa, or the abandonment of the stadium project.

    I pointed to ex Man U players who are far from positive when talking about matters Utd.

    As for ex Chelsea players Frank Lebouf, Coutouis have openly moaned about Chelsea even recently Peter Cech talks negatively about how it was when he lost the starting role

    Then you have Lucas Piazon talking about how he feels badly treated on loan and Jorginho how he felt as being badly treated by the supporters

    I don’t as a matter of course listen to Adrian Durham but when I did it seemed to me that he singled out Arsenal in his daily Arsenal slot but rarely did he talk positively about any one.

    As for Piers Morgan. Well if you worry about what he says then sorry you are giving the man far too much credit as he is nothing more than a bigoted,selfish hack who finds fault with everything unless he is looking in the mirror

  12. Mike T

    Maybe those you mention, Frank Lebouf, Coutouis, Peter Cech, Lucas Piazon, Jorginho have a personal gripe about Chelsea, but that is Worlds away from what I am talking about.

    What I’m talking about is the likes of Wright, Merson, Adams, Robson, Smith etc. Most of these are on TV, the radio or in the tabloids, on an almost daily basis when football is airing, and when they are, and when they are talking about Arsenal, it is almost entirely negative.

    That is completely different from the ‘personal’ gripes of which you talk.

    I agree with you about Keane and Scholes as they do tend to give United a hard time, but this is only since they basically deserved a bit of stick, after all they’ve been terrible since Fergie left despite spending 100’s of millions in the transfer market.

    We’ve been getting abuse for the last 15 years, despite living on a zero net spend for 10 years due to stadium commitments, and then winning 3 FA Cups.

    Liverpool and Spurs went years (Spurs still are) trophy less and never got anything like the abuse we got. Spurs HAVE finally got a bit of stick this year but jeeeeeeeez, how long since they won the league? How long since they won ANYTHING?

    I asked if ANY other club was singled out for daily abuse, not only by Durham, but by anyone.

    You know the answer, of course they don’t. Whether you listen to Durham or not is irrelevant.

    And I’m not ‘worried’ about Morgan, but again that’s not the point. I asked has any other team got what is supposed to be a fan using this pandemic to have a go at their club ?

    I take it you couldn’t find one.

    Tony has produced article after article and I have produced post after post, over many many years, highlighting the extraordinary amount of negativity that is out there about Arsenal and has, as I said earlier, been for over 15 years.

    If you believe any other club gets anything like the amount of abuse we do then honestly I don’t know what else to say.

  13. Nitram

    It seems to me no matter how I respond you are going to dismiss the response.

    If you are right about that ex Arsenal players who now have jobs as pundits ( not that I am sure Tony Adams is anything other than a washed up ex player ) then have you considered why they could be so vocal in their disproval?

    A story I heard from believe it or not Ron Harris ( he is an ambassador at a charity and attends events where he does a Q&A ) was that ex players at Chelsea were treated with contempt by Ken Bates he along with many others were in effect not welcome to attend games.

    Then along came RA and that all changed even to the point that all retired ex players and managers such as Tommy Docherty get a Fortum and Masons hamper each Christmas. I believe, and it chokes me to say, the likes of Spurs look after their ex players extremely well and often on match day you see a procession of the smartly kitted out in Spurs suits. Is the same respect applied at Arsenal? That’s an open question because I don’t know the answer.

    The likes of Robson who I consider to be two bit had his personal gripe particularly with AW ( he’s been remarkably quiet since AW left) . As for Merson he is a Chelsea supporter supporter who just happened to play for Arsenal. Alan Smith to me is pretty objective both in respect of Arsenal and indeed other clubs. Ian Wright is far from objective in any matter Football but being a happie chappie he gets the gig.

    Now to this comment by you

    I agree with you about Keane and Scholes as they do tend to give United a hard time, but this is only since they basically deserved a bit of stick, after all they’ve been terrible since Fergie left despite spending 100’s of millions in the transfer market.

    If and a big if you are correct couldn’t you accept that perhaps the comments are perhaps justified? Arsenal have spent hundreds of millions over the last few years and for the last few years of AWs tenure the mantra at Arsenal became about 4th place being a trophy and yes a few FA cups were won but couldn’t the same apply?

    Let’s face it when your chief exec openly states that you were financially on a par with Bayern then he really did open up a can of worms.

    During the Panademic I can’t think of any high profile celebrity that has chosen the time to launch the vitriol you talk about but Morgan to me clearly wanted AW out but not satisfied with that he wants success only it’s not as easy as that so his comments say more about how pathetic he is.

    In normal times I would point you toward Alan Sugar & James Nesbit. I will admit I cant name a high profile Chelsea supporter as pathetic as Morgan or indeed another Arsenal supporting celebrity who speaks in the same way but I really think that says more about the man.

    You without doubt are sensitive in matters Arsenal I get that but as I pointed out most supporters perception is that their club is given negative press . Is perception fact?

  14. Mike T, in terms of the club behind the scenes, may I throw in one thing that Arsenal in which comes into my ambit. It is not central to your discussion with Nitram, but it seems of interest to me.
    This does not relate to something that I set up, but I came across it because I run the Arsenal History Society. Arsenal has paid for work to be done to restore and smarten up the graves of Herbert Chapman and Lt Col Sir Henry Norris. No publicity was attached to this in terms of the latter at all, not least because of constant negativity that the media throws at Arsenal’s history under Norris, but they worked quietly to do this. Meanwhile the rampant anti-Norris propaganda continues – the Sunday Mirror had a huge slur on him recently – and the poor guy died in the 1930s.
    For Arsenal, it was a genuine and positive move, particularly in relation to Henry Norris’ resting place because I believe his descendants no longer live in England, and he is a figure who (wrongly) has been pilloried.
    I also understand directly from the club that no one in the support staff, background staff, cleaning teams etc etc has had their pay stopped or cut, despite the fact that they cannot work at present.
    These events were relayed to me personally by a director. The club does seem to do work in the background; there is a lot in the background that most of us never see – I just stumble across it.
    But counter to this we have the Mirror just recently alleging that Arsenal were involved in a match fixing scandal alongside Liverpool and Man U before the first world war – an utterly and totally untrue allegation.
    That is the level of the anti-Arsenal sniping. Then we had the book about all the things you never knew about football, which ran as its advert the story that Arsenal fixed their way into the top division – an oft-repeated allegation with not just no evidence, but masses of evidence to show it is untrue. That story relates to events in 1919, the first allegation was made in the late 1940s, and it is still being reported, even though every scrap of evidence shows this is simply an invented tale.
    The fact that the media gets away with all this just encourages endless misreporting, particularly against Arsenal, for I never see any other club have its history so misrepresented.

  15. Tony


    I personally think most sports journalists, come to that journalists in general, are shallow and whilst they think they understand or even some go as far as believe what they write,the quality of their research and or understanding is woefully weak.

    An awful lot of people revel in other people’s misery. Good news is rarely welcome by many when it relates to other people doing well. People always believe that there is always an ulterior motive and course often there is but sometimes people have generally good intentions.

    I read an awful lot as you obviously witness I like to get involved in debate and even a I guess some would say arguments but I see no harm in engaging in such a way but just as in politics sometimes we have to agree to disagree because no matter how convinced one person may be as to the strength of their case others will quite simply not agree.

    My wife bought me a notice that hangs in my office (sounds posh but it’s the small bedroom really ) it reads “ Warning .Retired person on the premises. Knows about everything and has plenty of time to tell you about it”

    History fascinates me and often we discover that a villain is maybe not quite as bad as some have painted.Just as sometimes our heroes are truly horrible individuals they just kept their horrors secret.

    I suspect you are no fan of RA. If that’s your opinion then fair enough but he has done an awful lot of good both in his home region , within the Worldwide Jewish community, with the old players ( he has personally paid for several medical interventions) the Chelsea trust and indeed during the current crisis he has like Arsenal continued to guarantee all staffs wages alongside he personally is paying to run the hotels for NHS staff and pay for of thousands of meals for the vulnerable and again NHS staff.

    My point is that there is an awful lot of good things that go on but it’s not what sells print.

    Be safe

  16. Mike T

    This is pointless.

    If you simply cannot concede the difference between occasional, sometimes justified and sometimes not, critisism, and endless negativity over decades, and as tony says some of it even going back over 100 years, then I am wasting my breath. I shall waste no more.

    Keep safe.

  17. Nitram

    I can’t concede it because I don’t think there is any evidence to suggest that Arsenal suffer more from negative reporting than other clubs.

    Tony admirably has produced evidence re Arsenal but without the same detailed attention viewed from an interested supporter ( such as a Man U supporter taking a view on a Man U article ) then it’s impossible to confirm such assertions.

    As a total aside many claims were made about how he acted. Some never proved some were but his actions were in the deep and distant past and compared to many historical characters his actions were hardly that of a tyrant.

    The irony is if you ask 99.99% of non Arsenal supporters who Norris was I suspect that they wouldn’t have a clue who he was.

  18. @MikeT, you’re quite patient. You’re having a dialogue with a group of people that only credit themselves when it comes to research/info. They’re the only ones who can conclusively say there’s a bias against them as they’re the only ones who have done the research (my foot). A simple Google search using keywords “proof that xyz EPLclub is unfairly treated by the referees/media” will bring up tons of articles written by fans of any of such clubs to argue their point

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