May 21 – Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, has demanded a meeting with Premier League boss Richard Masters to discuss the proposed £300 million takeover of Newcastle United by the Saudi Public Investment Fund, PIF, a finance vehicle closely associated to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Cengiz is stepping up her efforts having previously written an open letter to Newcastle fans to highlight the consequences of a Saudi takeover of the club.
She wrote: “I know that many of you are tempted by his offer to get out of the dire situation that has crippled your club for so many years. But the Crown Prince is accused of ordering Jamal’s murder. All credible investigations have shown his responsibility. He has not been put on trial in his own country as he controls it with an iron fist.”
“My plea to you is to think whether accepting Mohammed bin Salman’s offer is really the right way out of the despair for your club and City.”
In England, there have been growing concerns over a Saudi takeover of Newcastle United and what it might mean for the Premier League where background checks on owners too often appear perfunctory. Previously, Amnesty International warned the Premier League that it “risks becoming a patsy” and rights holder BeIN Sports flagged up Saudi Arabia’s TV rights theft that has damaged the industry on a global scale.
A number of Premier League clubs have, according to the Times, also written to the league expressing concern over the takeover with specific concern over the league being used to ‘sportwash’ Saudi Arabia’s reputation and the Saudi regime’s close links to the pirate TV channel BeoutQ that has stolen broadcast rights – the lifeblood of the Premier League’s finances – on an industrial scale.
Cengiz’s concern over PIF’s close ties with Mohammed Bin Salman adds yet more focus on what will be at a crucial test stage of the Premier League’s integrity.
In a letter to the Premier League from Cengiz’s legal counsel Rodney Dixon QC, he wrote: “It seems that the genuine concerns of Ms Cengiz and others may be brushed aside in the interests of pushing through the commercially lucrative acquisition irrespective of consequences.
“She is therefore requesting you and the Premier League board provide assurances that her concerns and objections are being given the attention that they duly warrant under the applicable law and rules.”
The Newcastle acquisition would also see Amanda Staveley and her firm PCP Capital Partners take a 10% stake in the club alongside a 10% stake for the Reuben Brothers who made their money in property.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti and Paul Nicholson at moc.l1600531434labto1600531434ofdlr1600531434owedi1600531434sni@o1600531434fni1600531434