Suddenly Saudi Arabia is being allowed into Newcastle

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
16 Newcastle United 123 61 2.01
19 Leicester City 127 58 2.18
20 Norwich City 120 52 2.31

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
9 Burnley 71 18 3.94
14 Leeds United 64 14 4.57
15 Brighton and Hove Albion 63 17 3.70
16 Newcastle United 61 15 4.01
20 Norwich City 52 11 4.72

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.

12 Replies to “Suddenly Saudi Arabia is being allowed into Newcastle”

  1. I saw Newcastle fans celebrating the news.

    They don’t really care. They’ve smelt the success of City and they can’t help themselves.

    I don’t know what this means for EPL if it goes through but if they implement the City blueprint then interesting times ahead.

  2. I wonder what the Newcastle players that have been taking the knee will think of this ?

    Obviously they are highly principled people that care about how human beings are treated. SO…

    Amnesty International:

    Ten ways that Saudi Arabia violates human rights.

    Newcastle fans.

    Read that and tell me why you were dancing in the street today ?

    Newcastle players.

    Read that and ask yourself WHY do you take the knee ?

    Makes me sick.

  3. Nice to see Jermaine Jenus is all for it especially after he said this a few weeks ago:

    JERMAINE JENAS: Booing is more of a reason for England to continue taking the knee… the whole point of fighting for equality is to refuse to back down

    By Jermaine Jenas For The Mail On Sunday Published: 22:30 BST, 5 June 2021 | Updated: 23:44 BST, 5 June 2021

    Fighting for equality are you Jenus ? Equality for who ? Not the citizens of Saudi Arabia obviously.

    What an absolute hypocrite.

  4. Nitram, I agree with you about the contradiction between taking the knee and embracing Saudi Arabia.

    However since the UK government regards Saudi as an ally and valued trading partner, and the whole of the international football establishment seems happy to promote a World Cup founded on slavery and exploitation, I feel that you may be being a little harsh in judging Mr. Jenad

  5. John L

    Thank you for the correction.

    I agree it is a minefield.

    Trade between the UK and Saudi Arabia, as well as other territories including China, is fraught with hypocrisy but I realize that if we only deal with countries with impeccable human rights records, or that don’t reach our expectations of political democracy or social standards, we would as a nation suffer financially to a crippling degree, so it does make these things very complicated, and probably, in fact definitely too complicated for me to go into very far.

    What isn’t beyond me is knowing blatant hypocrisy when I see it and Jenas is a blatant hypocrite, as is, in my humble opinion, any footballer who takes the knee and plays for a team backed by these Human rights evaders, or goes to a World Cup with Stadiums built by modern day slaves.

    I am not even happy about us being sponsored by the Emirates and I certainly didn’t dance in the streets when they sponsored our stadium.

    I have said many many times I hope against hope we never get doped by such a regime, or any regime to be honest. Jeez I was upset at Kronkes hunting Channel idea.

    I’m Not saying Janus cant be happy about it, but don’t lecture others on what they should or shouldn’t ‘protest’ about.

  6. When things get tough, the rebranding begins:-

    FA – “Charity Shield” becomes “Community Shield”

    Premier League – “Fit and Proper Person’s Test” becomes “Owners’ and Directors’ Test”

  7. Nitram,

    As far as the players are concerned, I don’t really see what the heck they can do. They are the (very well for some) salaried personnel who will move on to another club. There is no player union which can intervene. The whole of football has become not the playground of billionaires as in the US but of political forces and other dark players for the most.

    And if tomorrow the afghanistan government were to promote their country on some team’s equipment with millions of dollars, people would just buy them up not caring about what this really will be about.

    Guess it is the sign of our times. Panem et Circences. And in some years the empire will fall. With some luck, we’ll be gone by then and will have to some extent been able to enjoy the ride.

    Guess I’m not in an overly optimistic mood tonight….

  8. Chris.

    “As far as the players are concerned, I don’t really see what the heck they can do”.

    Just stop being hypocrites. it’s simple really.

    They don’t have to take the knee, but many choose to, to make a point about human rights. Which is fine if that is what they want to do. But the truth is, basically they are actually doing NOTHING. It is purely symbolic. Racist can take the knee. Non racist can remain standing. That is a fact. And crucially It doesn’t cost them a penny.

    I would be much more impressed if they remained standing and stood up against these regimes and refused to to give them the credence they crave by taking their money, playing in their competitions and thereby giving them the credibility they crave. It’snot difficult to move club and say I am not going. But that actually takes REAL commitment and perhaps more crucially costs them money.

  9. Here we go.
    The cohort of those who murdered Kashoggi take over Newcastle, England will play the World Cup on the skulls of migrant workers killed in the construction of the stadiums.

    Will English fans cheer for their team playing in a graveyard? Will any football fan?

  10. @ Nitram & John L

    The only conclusion that I can reach in terms of Saudi Arabia being an ally, is that the FA and the Government are both as morally bankrupt as each other.

  11. It seems that Shearer can’t make his mind up. Yesterday he was euphoric, but today it’s “we have to educate ourselves on that [human rights]”.

    Sitting on fences will cause splinters to appear in uncomfortable places at the very least, but go ahead and educate yourself, Al. We’ll wait.

    How long will these pundits take to wake up to the Qatar construction situation?

    We’re going to need much bigger carpets (and probably lots more brooms) to deal with the rapidly accumulating debris.

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