Northumberland councillor calls on Newcastle politicians to back NUFC takeover
A Northumberland councillor has called on politicians in Newcastle to get behind the Saudi takeover of the city’s football club.
The proposal for Newcastle United, led by Amanda Staveley and backed financially by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the Reuben Brothers, is currently in the hands of the Premier League, who are conducting their owners’ and directors’ test.
Many fans are supportive of the deal and ending the tenure of Mike Ashley, but concerns have been raised in relation to human rights issues, with critics claiming it is part of ongoing efforts by the Saudi regime of ‘sportswashing’, as well as piracy in relation to Premier League TV rights in the region.
But Coun Richard Wearmouth, who is the cabinet member for economic regeneration at Conservative-led Northumberland County Council, says that the club’s takeover by the consortium is vital for the future of the North East economy.
Newcastle Central’s Labour MP, Chi Onwurah, convened a digital town hall to discuss the deal earlier this month, concluding at the end that it will ‘take me some time to digest all of this and to think about how I represent NUFC fans in Parliament’.
She added: ‘Whoever owns NUFC I will engage with them and look to support the club, it’s such an important part of our culture and economy.’
However, Coun Wearmouth argues that this event led to more questions about her position than answers.
“A takeover of Newcastle United is one of the single most significant economic and socially transformative things that could happen in Tyneside and the wider area,” he said. “When Newcastle United thrives, so do we and we should back this takeover.
“The city’s Labour politicians need to make sure that is clearly understood by the Government and the Premier League or risk losing millions of pounds of investment and future revenue for local businesses.
“In the past, MPs have been very fast to criticise Mike Ashley and bathe in the resulting media attention, but when it comes to this latest deal it’s like someone has hit the mute button.
“For me it is quite clear, we already have extensive national and regional trade with Saudi Arabia. This takeover is a continuation of that trade and in no way stops us being a critical friend where we have disagreements.
“Failure to be clear on this is leaving a vacuum for the Premier League who must be nervous of making a decision when all they hear is negativity about approving this deal. We should be setting out our case and ending this now needless delay.”
Ms Onwurah’s office has been approached for comment.