Starmer says 'not for me' to oppose Saudi Newcastle takeover

UK Labour leader says 'not for me' to object to Saudi Newcastle takeover
2 min read
08 October, 2021
Appearing in an interview with BBC Breakfast on Friday morning, Keir Starmer said that fans are “glad to the back of Mike Ashley”, referring to Newcastle’s now previous owner and British billionaire.
Keir Starmer says there need to be an independent regulator to make these decisions [Getty]

UK Labour Party leader Keir Starmer has said it is “not for him” to object to the Saudi takeover of the Newcastle United football club, amid backlash over the kingdom’s human rights record. 

Appearing in an interview with BBC Breakfast on Friday morning, Starmer said that fans are “glad to the back of Mike Ashley”, referring to Newcastle’s now previous owner and British billionaire. 

“It’s not for me as the leader of the opposition to say who should own which football club. It is for an independent regulator. That is the scheme we’re putting forward,” Starmer said. 

“I think an independent regulator will look very carefully … the whole point of an independent regulator is they would look at the thing in the round, and the question of whether this is a fit and proper takeover.”

Society
Live Story

The new acquisition - worth a reported £300 million - was made on Thursday by a group of Saudi investment groups including Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media, with PIF holding 80% of the shares.

The deal has been under fire by prominent human rights groups, including Amnesty International, who have said the new ownership represents “sportswashing” of the Gulf kingdom’s human rights abuses. 

On Thursday, the Labour MP for Newcastle Central, Chi Onwurah, released a public statement on the NUFC takeover which outlined outrage and “horror by the human rights record of Saudi Arabia” and the necessity to get fans on boards of clubs so they can have say in decision making. 

“This takeover is not only about Newcastle but Saudi Arabia, whose sovereign fund provides the majority of the financing. Many of us are horrified by the human rights record of Saudi Arabia which stands in direct opposition to the values of our city.”