Compare: Kroenke blood sports TV channel and Mohammed Bin Salman on human rights

In  July 2017 Stan Kroenke announced that he was bringing his bloodsports TV channel  “My outdoor TV” to England.  We covered the issue in a number of articles on Untold at the time.    Untold didn’t get nearly as upset as some people did in relation to the issue, but we did say that we would have preferred it if he hand’t made such a decision. 

There was a huge amount of media coverage and a petition was launched, and as I recall it got rather a lot of signatures which meant that in the end The Kroenkes decided not to put the channel on the Sky TV package.  Thus the idea was quietly dropped and we all got on with our lives once more.

Now compare and contrast that with the Newcastle United situation.   Their new owner is not one who enjoys bloodsports with animals, but rather engages in bloodsports with humans.  

As Amnesty International put it, “Under Mohammed Bin Salman, the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia remains dire – with government critics, women’s rights campaigners, Shia activists and human defenders still being harassed and jailed, often after blatantly unfair trials.

“The closed-door trial of Jamal Khashoggi’s alleged killers was widely perceived to be a part of a wider whitewash by the authorities, and Saudi Arabia is accused of a catalogue of crimes under international humanitarian law during the long conflict in Yemen….

“The phrase ‘human rights’ doesn’t even appear in the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test despite English football supposedly adhering to FIFA standards.

“As with Formula One, elite boxing, golf or tennis, an association with top-tier football is a very attractive means of rebranding a country or person with a tarnished reputation. The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules.”

Now that is a point and a half, so I will repeat it, at the risk of boring you stupid if you were paying attention.

The phrase ‘human rights’ doesn’t even appear in the Premier League’s owners’ and directors’ test despite English football supposedly adhering to FIFA standards.

It is worth noting that the investment by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in Newcastle is not the kingdom’s first attempt to cover its disastrous PR record by utilising football.  One earlier attempt came in the 1970s, during the first Saudi PR fiasco as the nation hired (and here I kid you not) Jimmy Hill and David Icke.

Hill you may recall was a director of Fulham, and a regular pundit on TV known for giving all-encompassing opinions on football which lots of the media took to be opinions delivered from on high. 

David Icke who is a conspiracy theorist who believes that the powers above brought him to Earth to receive messages from the spirit world and pass them on to lesser mortals.  Presumably like the owner of Saudi Arabia.  Hill seemingly persuaded the Saudis to build him a squash court, and then buggered off back to from whence he came.

Now we are inevitably into the Gaslighting phase of Saudi’s buyout, with the media offering us articles that are there solely to stop us thinking about murder and torture, torture and murder.

Thus we have the Star telling us that Newcastle’s owner once spent £330m on ‘fake’ Leonardo da Vinci painting Star – painting the picture of him not as a brutal murderer and torturer but rather as a bit of a prat.

Elsewhere there is worry about what Manchester City and PSG will do now there is a really big kid on the block.

As for the BBC they are telling us that “the UK government is refusing to reveal what it told the Premier League about the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United because it could “harm” relations with Saudi Arabia.”

For although the government says it did not get involved in the deal, it is widely reported that the Foreign Office had meetings with the Premier League to discuss it.  The BBC asked for details of the meetings under Freedom of Information Act. 

The government is resisting instead giving a copy of the agenda for a meeting in May last year with all the juicy bits chopped out with the telling note that, “The disclosure of information detailing our relationship with the Saudi government could potentially damage the bilateral relationship between the UK and Saudi Arabia.”  That meeting was attended by officials representing the Foreign Office, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Department for International Trade and the Premier League.

So not the caretaker and cleaning department then.

In fact everyone’s got involved, and is now seemingly quite happy with a club being bought by one of the most appalling regimes in the world.  OK North Korea might be worse, but only might be.

I wonder what the state will do if the Saudis also fancy buying Norwich City.

11 Replies to “Compare: Kroenke blood sports TV channel and Mohammed Bin Salman on human rights”

  1. I thought that was inherent in the point I was making. I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear enough to you. But at least you can take pleasure in the fact that I didn’t insult you back.

  2. Isn’t a bit ironic that Chelsea and Manchester City are reported to be among the EPL Clubs expressing concern over the Newcastle take-over?

    The EPL claim of “legally binding assurances” that Saudis will not be controlling the Club seems hardly credible.

  3. Tony

    Another well thought out article.

    As you may of seen I’ve had a few things to say on this topic and I have some strong views, but this a very emotive subject so I suspect that is true for most people.

    In among my ramblings I have conceded that whatever I think this it is a tricky subject, especially when it come to global economics.

    When it comes to that it is a minefield. As I suggested elsewhere if we were without fault then we could expect the same of everyone else but thus we are not. That being said we have every right to expect certain standards to be attained by others and if they do not attain them then perhaps we should not deal with them. But I would suggest if we didn’t trade with anyone who didn’t reach the level we would expect there would be an awful lot of the World we would not trade with, which would have a potentially catastrophic impact on our economy, so it is tricky.

    I do not think it’s tricky when it comes to football. IT’S FOOTBALL !!

    Given as Amnesty International put it, the ‘Dire’ situation regarding Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, when I read:

    “Every football fan wants to see their team compete and Newcastle fans are not an exception.”

    as justification, frankly I couldn’t actually believe what I was reading.

    Are people really that desperate to win a f***ing football trophy? Sadly it seems so.

  4. Seismic

    Thank you.

    Unfortunately they wont see it that way.

    Speak to any Man City or Chelsea fan and they never concede for one second that they ‘bought’ anything, or at least if they do, they claim ‘Everybody’ buys it, which of course is true to a degree.

    But to compare being changed from a club valued at £1 that won nothing for year on end, or a yo yoing ramshackle club that went through 20 managers in 20 years, both that were then bailed out by BILLION pound unearned investments, to how Manchester Utd and Arsenal achieved what they achieved is to lump murderers and shoplifters in the same bracket. Yes they are both criminals but it’s hardly the same thing is it.

    But they wont have it because even if they do accept they ‘bought it’ they then start banging on about it being the ONLY way to break into this mythical ‘cartel’ that we were part of.

    But that too is a totally flawed argument because as I said elsewhere, given our current predicament, our 10 years without a trophy and subsequent endless ridicule, it’s the most impotent Cartel I’ve ever seen. The Cartel didn’t stop Manchester United from getting relegated. It didn’t stop Liverpool going over 30 years without a championship or over 10 years without any domestic trophies at all.

    And even if they are not prepared to accept our diabolical treatment by referees over the years is anything other than a figment of our imagination, they can hardly claim we got any special ‘cartel’ like treatment from them can they ?

    The bottom line is these clubs have been run poorly and weren’t/aren’t prepared to do the graft required to do it the HARD way. So this mega investment method isn’t the ONLY way it all, it’s just the EASY way.

    As I said many times, whatever these clubs win it means nothing. Any club, and that is ANY club, would of done what Chelsea and Man City have done, given the levels of financial doping they have received.

    Newcastle will no doubt do the same. It wont be quite as simple because obviously there are already 2 financially doped teams as well as the mega rich Manchester United and a resurgent Liverpool to deal with, but they WILL win things and it will probably include the championship because when you have UNLIMITED funds that’s what happens. It may take a few years because even Chelsea took a few years and Man city a few more, but endless investment ensured they got there in the end, as will Newcastle.

    But honestly where is the achievement in something we already KNOW will happen ?

    Where is the joy when you know in reality it’s not actually a football tournament you are winning but a ‘who’s got the biggest wallet’ competition!

    Manchester Uniteds glory years are known as the Fergie years.

    Arsenals will be known as the Wenger years.

    Chelseas glory years will be known as the Abramovic years.

    Man City’s will be known as the Mansour years

    Two teams remembered for two gigantic managers.

    Two teams remembered for two gigantic bank balances.

    Says it all really

  5. OT but could impact AFC:
    Kroenke has promised, and is legally bound, to indemnify the other team owners in the NFL if the Courts rule his moving of the Rams team from St. Louis to Los Angeles was improper. The penalties could be in the billions of dollars.

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