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‘A shame for English football’: Khashoggi fiancée on Newcastle takeover by Saudi-led consortium

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The fiancée of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi has said she is “shocked” and “so sad” after the Premier League allowed a Saudi-led consortium to take over at Newcastle United.

Khashoggi, an exiled Saudi journalist who was a frequent critic of the Arab kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was murdered in October 2018.

An intelligence report, contributed to mostly by the CIA, concluded that bin Salman is likely to have approved an operation to kill or capture the journalist inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Pic: The Dissident/Briarcliff Entertainment
Image: Hatice Cengiz had been due to marry Jamal Khashoggi before he was murdered. Pic: The Dissident/Briarcliff Entertainment

Saudi Arabia denied this and offered a number of different explanations before eventually settling on saying he was killed in a rogue operation by a rendition squad. Five people were sentenced to death after a secret trial, Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor said.

Before the takeover of Newcastle United was approved, Khashoggi’s death and human rights abuses were highlighted by Amnesty International as reasons why the Premier League should not allow a Saudi-led consortium to buy the club.

Hatice Cengiz – a Turkish national who was engaged to marry Khashoggi – told Sky News: “It is so sad, it is a real shame for Newcastle and English football.”

More on Jamal Khashoggi

Jamal Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018
Image: Jamal Khashoggi was killed after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018

The Premier League said it allowed the £300m deal to be agreed after it received “legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control” the club.

Amanda Staveley, who now sits on the board of Newcastle United as chief executive officer of PCP Capital Partners, said Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which now has an 80% stake in the club, is a sovereign wealth fund independent of the gulf nation.

She told Sky Sports News: “The Premier League have issued a statement. The issue around this deal was about control, and the control issue has been resolved and we’ve closed, we’ve moved forward.

“The consortium lead partner is PIF, it’s an autonomous, commercially-driven investment fund. It’s a great partner for Newcastle. I’m very honoured to work with them, they’ve been incredibly patient and fabulous partners to PCP.”

However, Ms Cengiz said: “It doesn’t make sense because everyone knows the government [in Saudi Arabia] controls everything.

“The current Saudi regime has a crown prince who is managing everything in the country. The point is this… how do the players, the fans and the director of Newcastle accept this situation?

“I am really sad about this point. I guess money is more important than anything in this life.”

She added: “I want to remind them there are some values more [important] than money. It’s so heart-breaking for me to remind the West of these values.”

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‘Best day of my life’ – Newcastle fan

Amnesty International told the Premier League that the Arab kingdom was trying to “sportswash their appalling human rights record with the glamour of top-fight football”.

However, such issues have been far from the minds of many Newcastle supporters who had been hoping for a takeover for years.

After the deal was confirmed, Newcastle’s all-time top goalscorer Alan Shearer joined thousands of fans in celebrating as he claimed “we can dare to hope again”.