Statement from Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle Central on NUFC takeover

Statement from Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle Central on NUFC takeover

For Newcastle United fans – who make up the majority of my constituents – the last few years have been an agony of frustration, disappointment and deception, further poisoned by the undisguised contempt of the club’s owner and the Premier League for fans’ hopes and investment in the club. We need to ensure proper regulatory oversight of football so that this does not happen again.

Fans do not get any say in football clubs’ ownership and I have campaigned with many of you against the actions on Mike Ashley and strongly condemned the role of the Premier League. I know that the end of the Ashley era is a day of celebration and joy for many.

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.

I understand the new owners believe this investment is a sign of change and a desire to open up on the part of Saudi Arabia and I hope that is true. I recognise the power of sport to communicate and bring people together, but as an anti Apartheid activist for many years, I believe sport is political. Certainly, this takeover has shown that.

Football governance is broken as highlighted by the disastrous plans for a European Super League. Labour has long called for reform including proper independent regulation, an ongoing owners and directors test and an opportunity to get fans on boards so they can have a say in the club they love.

Newcastle United fans are not the ones responsible for dictating the terms by which football club takeovers are decided or for regulating the global financial system which has seen the Saudi government and royal family make extensive investments in many sectors of the economy including Uber, Twitter & McClaren.  It is for government to set out the appropriate regulatory frameworks.

Whilst many will be overjoyed at the outcome the fact remains that for 14, 550 working families in Newcastle Central, this week’s most significant announcement will be the Government’s cut of £20 per week from Universal Credit.




6 thoughts on “Statement from Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle Central on NUFC takeover

  1. The ghost of Jamal

    ‘As I said yesterday in Parliament, the responsibility for the brutal murder of Jamal #Khashoggi must lie firmly with Saudi Arabia’s autocratic ruler, & our Government should take immediate action to halt arm sales’ – Chi Onwurah.

    1. Francis Caballero

      The same people who now own nufc.
      Youre comments dont add up…stop arms sales to Saudi….but let the nufc takeover happen…make youre mind up.
      Its a disgrace how you turn a blind eye to the takeover scandal.
      Mike ashley a saint compared to these peopke….all you want is money at nufc .
      Morals right out the window.

      1. Chi Office

        Chi has written: I am sorry you are disappointed by my response to the takeover of Newcastle United by a consortium backed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF)
        I organised a Town Hall meeting with Newcastle United fans in May 2020 to which I invited Hatice Cengiz, widow of Jamal Khashoggi, as well as Amnesty International and other representatives from human rights groups in Saudi Arabia.
        Hundreds of fans participated and many more watched online.
        I spoke of my concerns at the terrible human rights record of the Saudi Arabian Government. I received a considerable amount criticism from Newcastle United fans, as I knew I would. Opportunism as you put it was not my motivation then or now.
        I am not sure of the reasons why you believe that I have given my blessing to the deal. My statement certainly does not do so, nor have any of my statements in the past.
        I have no say in the deal, like millions of Premier League fans who do not get to choose who owns their club. I have campaigned to ensure greater accountability of the Premier League to the fans for whom football means so much. My view, as I set out in correspondence with the Premier League, was that the takeover process has not been transparent and the Owners and Directors test is opaque and inconsistent. I understand the new owners feel that they benefitted from my campaign for greater transparency but I made clear to them and the Premier League that I advocate not for any owner or any billionaire but for my constituents and fans of the club sited in my constituency. Labour wants to see an independent regulator for football, fans on boards and a stronger owner and directors test.
        It is true that I have not attacked Newcastle United fans for being pleased that the Ashley era is over and new owners are in place, and I assume this is the root of your condemnation, and it is that which you would have considered leadership. I have not attacked the fans, not simply because it would not be popular, but because it would be wrong. NUFC fans get no say in who owns their club, but you are suggesting that I as their representative should attack them for being pleased at the investment when they see the UK Government export arms to Saudi Arabia, our Queen inviting their rulers to tea, hundreds of millions of pounds of Saudi investment being poured into UK Start ups and global companies like Uber and other football clubs ‘benefiting ‘ from the ownership of Saudi and other Gulf billionaires. When the Premier League themselves did not cite the Saudi human rights record as a reason to fail the owners and directors test and instead tried to delay the purchase till the consortium’s patience ran out. When Government and the Premier League have made football a game where all that matters is money, and give fans no power in the game they love, condemning fans for welcoming those with the most money is attacking an easy target, who are powerless, and allowing those responsible, who do have power, to continue in a corrupt system.
        I have said, and it has not been popular, that I do not like where the money is coming from, that the Saudi Arabia human rights record is atrocious, that the new owners must be held to account and that there are many challenges ahead Forcing Newcastle United fans to identify with Saudi Arabia by holding them responsible for a relationship put in place by Mike Ashley and the Premier League and condoned by their Government will lead them to embrace that relationship rather than questioning it. I am seeking to do what is best for Newcastle Central, for my constituents, for football and for the international financial system by questioning and highlighting those relationships, but not attacking those who have no power.
        I hope that clarifies my position. I should say I have received as many emails and tweets criticising me for criticising the deal, as I have criticising me for not criticising the deal. That is not a scientific poll but it certainly suggests I am not seen as having “given the deal my blessing” by everyone.

  2. ken mantel

    Chi, stop being naive, the idea that the acquisition of NUFC by a Saudi consortium will lead to a change in the Kingdom’s attitude to LGBTQ+ is as much wisful thinking as believing the new Taliban regime will openly educate women & girls – a forlorn hope.

    1. Chi Office

      I do believe the takeover will shine a bigger spotlight on human rights abuses in #SauidiArabia.
      Indeed it already has.
      Whether that leads to change is an important question for us all.

      1. ken mantel

        Indeed the spotlight is shining and I’m pleased to see that Alan Shearer has gone from euphoria to cautioning not to sweep the human rights issue under the carpet. We here are very aware and can apply pressure verbally but the contracts we have with the Kingdom ensure we will take no further action and sadly Chi neither will they. The situation will be the same as it is in respect of our relationship with other premiership, particularly UAE owners, highlighted but ineffective. Keep trying!

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