Fan group's criticism of Newcastle takeover ahead of Carrow Road visit

Newcastle United Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan (centre), Directors Amanda Staveley (right) and Mehrdad

Newcastle United's new owners - Credit: PA

Norwich City’s LGBTQ+ fan group has criticised the Premier League for allowing the Saudi Arabian takeover of Newcastle United ahead of the Toon Army’s visit to Carrow Road on Saturday.

Proud Canaries spoke out after Amnesty International called on fans to raise human rights issues in the desert kingdom whenever their team plays against The Magpies, now “the richest club in the world”.

The £305m takeover by the Arab country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has already sparked protests at Spurs, Crystal Palace and Brighton.

Newcastle United fans celebrate at St James' Park following the announcement that The Saudi-led take

Newcastle United fans celebrate at St James' Park following the announcement that The Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle has been approved - Credit: PA

 

Proud Canaries' co-founder, Di Cunningham, said: "It's an indictment of the English Premier League, the English Football League and the FA that the Fit and Proper Person test still lacks reference to human rights and a shameful reflection on the game's global guardians that key competitions are still held in countries with repressive regimes with no appetite to transform."

 Di Cunningham, founder of Proud Canaries

Di Cunningham, founder of Proud Canaries. - Credit: Di Cunningham


“Everyone should feel welcome and safe to support their team wherever they play and football finances should not be rooted in abuse.

“Directors with a firm ethical steer are sadly rare in football. We’re lucky to have Delia, Michael, Tom and our board who were instrumental in the club’s recognition of Proud Canaries – the first official LGBTQ+ fan group in the country – back in 2013.”

Felix Jakens, Amnesty International UK’s Head of Campaigns, said: “Football has its own issues with racism and other hate speech, but fans have a perfect right to voice concerns about serious human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia.

“The greater the spotlight on Saudi human rights violations, the better.

Financier Amanda Staveley arrives at St James' Park, Newcastle. The end of the Mike Ashley era broug

Newcastle United are now the richest club in England. Amanda Staveley at St James' Park after the takeover was completed. - Credit: PA


“One irony, of course, is that no one in Saudi Arabia could possibly hope to hold up a banner denouncing human rights abuses in the Kingdom without risking a long jail sentence.

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“Though the Newcastle buyout is clearly part of the Saudi authorities’ long-term attempt to sportswash the country’s image, it’s fairly predictable that the effect in the short term has been to trigger greater discussion of human rights abuses in the country. 

“Greater awareness of Saudi human rights issues is extremely welcome, and we hope it can lead to sustained pressure for much-needed reforms.”