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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
John Cross

Newcastle chief Amanda Staveley on calls to investigate Saudi ownership and Man Utd bid

Amanda Staveley has insisted Newcastle United have not broken any promises on their Saudi ownership.

Newcastle's takeover by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) was given Premier league approval after "legally binding assurances" the Saudi government would not have any control over the club.

But in a US court case regarding LIV Golf, Newcastle chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan has been described as “a sitting minister of the government” with “sovereign immunity.”

That has led to calls from Amnesty Internationa l for the Newcastle takeover to be re-examined as the original approval caused huge controversy because of Saudi’s human rights record.

But Newcastle director Staveley told the FT Business of Football summit: “The undertaking was that Saudi Arabia would not control the club. That undertaking has been and is being honoured.”

She also dismissed speculation the Saudis could move for Manchester United and said: “I don’t think so. That’s not my belief. I can’t speak for PIF but I don’t see that.

"Looking specifically at Newcastle, we were very clear that we wanted a club with a passionate fan base. We’ve got that and we wanted a club we could buy affordably. We didn’t go for the wonderful Tottenham, Chelsea or Liverpool because why spend billions?”

Staveley has also ruled out PIF launching a bid to buy Man Utd (Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Human rights groups have called the purchase of Newcastle an act of "sportswashing" since the beginning and the latest developments have only brought a fresh wave of scrutiny.

“It was always stretching credulity to breaking point to imagine that the Saudi state wasn’t directing the buyout of Newcastle with the ultimate aim of using the club as a component in its wider sportswashing efforts,” Peter Frankental, Amnesty UK’s economic affairs director, said.

“There’s an unmistakable irony in the sovereign wealth fund declaration emerging in a dispute about another arm of Saudi Arabia’s growing sports empire, but the simple fact is that Saudi sportswashing is affecting numerous sports and governing bodies need to respond to it far more effectively.

Al-Rumayyan was described as “a sitting minister" of the Saudi government during a trial involving LIV Golf (Getty Images)

“The Premier League will surely need to re-examine the assurances made about the non-involvement of the Saudi authorities in the Newcastle deal, not least as there’s still a Qatari bid for Manchester United currently on the table.”

Staveley also confirmed that Amazon are filming a documentary at the club as she claimed they have “to look at every opportunity” because of strict Financial Fair Play rules - including expanding their portfolio of clubs.

“We’re looking at everything in terms of how we grow Newcastle and our brand,” she told the event. “The opportunity to buy players early in the cycle is critical to our growth. We’re very focused on young players so obviously we have looked at multi-club.

“But whenever you look at multi-club you have to make sure that you have the right fit – you also make sure that you choose your territory carefully and have the right chemistry. You’re working with another fanbase in another area so it’s critical that you set out what your goals will be. It’s complicated.”

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