By Tony Attwood
We’ve discussed Saudi Arabia before. And there is now a certain irony that of all clubs being taken over by Saudi Arabia the one selected is the one most closely associated with beer. It’s illegal in Saudi Arabia.
But maybe if this rule is applied to Newcastle United once the Saudi takeover goes through, that could be a good thing. Because maybe then, with the fans at St James Park not having partaken of the brew before a game they will start to appreciate exactly what the referees are doing to them in each game. It could be a real bonus.
That bonus can come from the fact that Newcastle is one of just four teams this season who can undertake over two tackles before being called out for a foul…
|Position||Team||Tackles||Fouls||Tackles / foul|
|15||Brighton and Hove Albion||140||63||2.22|
And yet perversely they are one of just five teams who are being hauled up very quickly when they commit a foul. Only five teams get a yellow card for fewer than five fouls – one of which is Burnley, the subject of our earlier piece and one of which is Newcastle United.
|Position||Team||Fouls||Yellows||Fouls / yellow|
|15||Brighton and Hove Albion||63||17||3.70|
This really is Newcastle’s problem. They can tackle away without being called out for a foul much of the time, but the moment that foul is called there is every change they are going to get a yellow card. And when one remembers that thus far in the season three clubs haven’t even got into double figures in the yellow card charts, it shows how these teams are being penalised.
So I wonder, will this change of owner result in a change of playing style, a change in the attitude of referees toward the club, and a reduction in fouls and yellows called by referees. If so it will be fascinating to watch it happen, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on the stats.
And there is a certain irony that the thing that has been holding up the deal for so long is the fact of a dispute over copyright – which seems now to have withered on the vine (as it were).
As the Guardian is reporting, “The development follows the news that Saudi Arabia has lifted its four‑year ban on sports channel network beIN Sports to allow Premier League, Uefa and Fifa matches to be broadcast legally again – as well as promising to close pirate websites operating in the country.”
That last is an interesting phrase, given that the BeOut channel has never claimed to be within or controlled by Saudi Arabia. If that keeps going, well….
The fact that Saudi Arabia has no written criminal code; the state allows punishments include public beheading, stoning, amputation and lashing for theft, robbery, the deliberate abandonment of Islam by a Muslim in word or through deed, adultery, witchcraft and sorcery. All based on religious beliefs. And I say that not because I have anti-Islamic sentiments. I mention it as an atheist
We’ve been through this before, but it seems that one can now be a just and proper owner of a Premier League club even if one also runs a country in which the religious police do their thing, as to the secret police as do, well, the police – and in which there is no written criminal code.
What will the state do if someone states or alleges that a Newcastle player is gay? Homosexuality is illegal and severely punished, there is no religious freedom, women are third rate citizens, there is no rule of law.
So could it be the case that once the Saudis will have taken over NU, it’s game over for beer and any alcohol at Saint James Park? Are strict religious rules subject to commercial considerations? What will the owners do anything about any advertisements that they don’t like?
Will the women’s team be jettisoned? We shall see.
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