The fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi has written an open letter to Newcastle United fans asking them to consider if the club’s pending takeover is ‘the right way out of despair’ for them and the city.
The Premier League club are on the brink of a controversial £300million takeover by a coalition backed by funds from the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
Several bodies have come forward to express their concerns over the prospective new ownership, including Amnesty International, with issues being raised over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
One such issue was the murder of Khashoggi, who was killed after he entered the Saudi consulate on October 2, 2018, to obtain paperwork for his wedding to his Turkish fiancee Hatice Cengiz.
Turkey has charged 20 suspects, including two former aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, over the 2018 murder.
And Cengiz has now written to Toon supporters to ask them to consider the ramifications of a Saudi-backed takeover.
‘I write to you at a crucial time in the history of your famous football club,’ she began.
‘Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the absolute ruler of Saudi Arabia, is aiming to take over your club by offering a huge sum of money.
‘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.’
Khashoggi, a Saudi insider-turned-critic, was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a 15-man Saudi squad inside the consulate, according to Turkish officials.
His remains have never been found.
The CIA, UN special envoy Agnes Callamard and Turkey have directly linked Crown Prince Mohammed to the killing, a charge the kingdom vehemently denies.
Cengiz has expressed concerns about the Crown Prince having such close ties with the football club – with the PIF set to take an 80 per cent stake – and has insists supporters should ‘unite’ in a bid to protest against the pending deal.
‘The Rules of the Premier League do not allow the Crown Prince to own and control your club,’ she continued.
‘We must all ensure that these high standards are not trampled on. Please consider where this takeover could leave you in the months and years ahead as a club that could become a “home” for those accused of murder and torture, and forever have to compete for football glory under that dark and ominous cloud.
‘As I’m sure we can all agree, that should not be the legacy and destiny of Newcastle Football Club.’
The takeover is currently at the owners’ and directors’ test stage with the Premier League, with Mike Ashley having accepted an offer from the consortium, which is being led by businesswoman Amanda Staveley.
Her PCP Capital Partners company is set to take a 10 per cent stake in the club, while the Reuben Brothers are also set to take 10 per cent.
Another sticking point for the takeover is the complaint from Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports, who own Premier League TV rights but allege that the Saudi state is involved in pirate broadcasting of top-flight games.