Klopp questions Newcastle buyout
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp called on the Premier League on Friday to explain the reasons for approving the buyout of Newcastle by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund amid human rights concerns in the kingdom.
Speaking at length about the potential effects of the Saudi ownership, Klopp said Newcastle was now “owned by a country” and would have a “guaranteed” spot in the Champions League within a few years.
The Premier League approved the protracted $409 million takeover last week after saying it was satisfied that the Public Investment Fund (PIF) produced “legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle.” That fund, which has bought 80% of the club, is chaired by Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, while there are six Saudi ministers and an advisor to the royal court on the PIF’s board.
Activists have highlighted to the Premier League Saudi human rights violations, including the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul after US intelligence services said they believe the slaying came at the crown prince’s orders. The kingdom has denied that.
“Actually, I was waiting for some official statements about it from (Premier League chief executive) Richard Masters or somebody else, because we all know there are concerns about human rights issues,” Klopp said.
“I think that’s all clear, we all think the same there,” he said. “Obviously,” Klopp added, “the Premier League, or Richard Masters, thought, yeah, let’s give it a go.’ It’s not the first time, but as far as I know, it’s the first club which is now owned by a country.