Alan Shearer insists Newcastle fans must ‘educate ourselves’ on rights abuses after £305m Saudi takeover, but hits back at criticism of supporters celebrating end of Mike Ashley’s disastrous 14-year era
- A Saudi-backed consortium has completed a deal to buy Newcastle for £305m
- Amanda Staveley has revealed plans to get Alan Shearer back as an ambassador
- The former striker insists that fans must take on board criticisms of the takeover
- Human rights groups have been vocal against the purchase of the top-flight club
Alan Shearer believes Newcastle United supporters must be willing to take on board criticism of the Saudi backing the club will receive as part of their £305m takeover.
Mike Ashley’s debilitating 14 year reign at St James’ Park was officially brought to an end on Thursday with news that the Premier League had finally ratified a takeover involving the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
While the news brought wild scenes in Newcastle, as fans assembled outside the ground to celebrate the news, it has also brought with it plenty of concern.
Alan Shearer insists Newcastle United fans must educate themselves on Saudi rights abuses
Amnesty International are among those to publicly disapprove of the deal, while Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has described the ratification as a ‘real shame’.
Amongst all the jubilant scenes in the North East, Shearer has insisted that these concerns cannot be shut out by fans.
‘We owe it to ourselves and the wider world to listen to the evidence about human rights abuses in Saudi, to educate ourselves and know what we’re getting into,’ he wrote in his column for The Athletic.
Amanda Staveley has pushed through the purchase of Newcastle United for £305m
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been criticised for the country’s rights record
‘Football puts us in difficult positions. And it can make hypocrites of us, too. We hate that tough-tackling bastard who plays for another team right until the moment he signs for us and then he becomes our bastard.
‘It seems to me that ethical issues have not played a huge part in Newcastle’s takeover. Should they be a fundamental strand of the owners’ and directors’ test? Perhaps they should and perhaps the whole system of governance and ownership needs reform to reflect that.’
While Shearer says supporters have a duty of care to educate themselves, he rejects criticism of them for celebrating a momentous day in the club’s history.
The 51-year-old experienced first hand the erattic and chaotic nature of the Mike Ashley regime when he was manager for a brief spell in 2009, and the end of such gruelling times on Tyneside is welcome.
Shearer defended fans who gathered en mass to celebrate the sale of the club on Thursday
And he insists that fans cannot be held accountable for a changing of ownership that they held no sway in.
‘What I find harder to accept is that Newcastle fans should be asked to defend something they have no control over,’ he added. ‘This is a transaction conducted between a billionaire and some richer billionaires. We haven’t been consulted.
‘If Saudi is your line in the sand, then I accept, respect and completely understand it. But there have been other lines, too.
‘Maybe it was Russian involvement in the Premier League, China or Abu Dhabi. Maybe it was Americans using a club’s own money to help complete a purchase. Qatar is hosting a World Cup.
Mike Ashley’s 14 year reign at the North East club has finally been brought to an end