Battle lines were drawn, and fans doubled down when supporting and justifying their owners’ morals, particularly if those in power invested obscene amounts of money and delivered demonstrable success. Such ability to turn the other cheek has even led to justification of club captains racially abusing opponents or players wearing t-shirts in ludicrous support of a team-mate for using slurs – we’re looking at you, Chelsea and Liverpool. Yeah, but whatabout them over there?
Welcome, then, Mohammed bin Salman. But only as chairman of the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia (PIF), which has just taken over Newcastle United in a £300million deal, not as the Crown Prince of the Middle Eastern country. The Premier League insists the two are “separate entities” and that the Magpies are not now owned by a kingdom with what can at best be described as a chequered human rights record.
Amnesty International say this is a clear attempt at sports washing from a state involved in the bombing of Yemen, the routine beheading of its own citizens, lack of LGBTQ rights and assassination and dismemberment of journalists critical of the regime, such as Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Turkey.