The deal is finally done. Newcastle United football club has finally - officially - been sold by much-maligned owner Mike Ashley.
And the club has been sold to *checks notes* the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia - a fund that is chaired by Mohammad bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, and the man the US senate has called 'complicit' in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi...
Along with the murder of Khashoggi the state is also widely known for its gross human rights abuses, it's shocking anti-LGBT laws, etc...
Ok so this £300m takeover isn't a good thing, right?
Well, Newcastle United fans seem to think differently.
Magpie supporters have taken to the streets in the aftermath of the club's official confirmation that the sale had been finalised to celebrate the deal.
As you can see in the footage below, fans flocked to St. James' Park to light flares:
To throw beers:
To chant 'we've got our club back' - which, no, doesn't make sense because the club has been sold to Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund and not Geordie supporters of the football club.
And to even partake in a 'victory lap' of St. James' Park:
Speaking to The Guardian outside the stadium, a number of fans expressed why they are celebrating the sale of the club, and not lingering on the issues regarding the new owners' human rights abuses:
“As fans there’s not a lot we can do about the human rights stuff,” said Paul Lorraine, a Newcastle fan.
“We’re all wearing clothes borne out of sweatshops in countries with human rights issues. The moral compass is always a strange one in times like this.
"As fans, especially as downtrodden as ours, you’ve got to be allowed to enjoy a bit of hope, and that’s the priority today, not about human rights issues. Hope for the club, hope for the area.”
Another fan, Ray Sproul, echoed these sentiments:
“The World Cup next year is going to be in Qatar and that’s one of the worst places in the world rights] – so why should Newcastle United be affected by the human rights side of it? Man City have had their owners for years and no one’s shouting and screaming at them. We’re just interested in football. We’re ordinary football supporters and that’s it.”
While supporters celebrate and push the moral baggage of the deal to one side, organisations such as Amnesty International have been keen to remind the footballing community of what welcoming people such as Mohammad bin Salman into the game means:
“Under Mohammed bin Salman, the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia remains dire - with government critics, women’s rights campaigners, Shia activists and human defenders still being harassed and jailed, often after blatantly unfair trials," read a statement from Amnesty International UK's CEO (via The Athletic).
“Instead of allowing those implicated in serious human rights violations to walk into English football simply because they have deep pockets, we’ve urged the Premier League to change their owners’ and directors’ test to address human rights issues.
“The phrase ‘human rights’ doesn’t even appear in the owners’ and directors’ test despite English football supposedly adhering to FIFA standards. We’ve sent the Premier League a suggested new human rights-compliant test and we reiterate our call on them to overhaul their standards on this.
“As with Formula One, elite boxing, golf or tennis, an association with top-tier football is a very attractive means of rebranding a country or person with a tarnished reputation. The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules.”