Sports broadcaster Gabby Logan is “trying to see the positives” in the takeover of Newcastle United but admits she is uneasy at the club she supports having Saudi-backed owners.
Amanda Staveley’s consortium, which comprises the financier’s PCP Capital Partners, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the Reuben Brothers, has just celebrated the first anniversary of the £305 million takeover.
The sale of the Tyneside club by sportswear tycoon Mike Ashley to the consortium drew criticism because PIF, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, holds an 80% stake.
Campaign group Amnesty International has highlighted its ongoing concerns over human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and repeatedly accused the Gulf state of “sportswashing”.
Logan, who is a long-time Newcastle United fan and began her broadcasting career in the city, said she wants to see the team do well but questions about the source of the club’s finance “doesn’t always sit very well with people”.
She added: “I was having this conversation with somebody earlier on because of Jurgen Klopp’s comments singling out Newcastle United, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City as they are the clubs that are owned by the UAE states.
“It is really difficult to not say that the sport is at the moment going through a period where you’ve got what looks like sportswashing going on with certain kind of entities and countries that are trying to project itself on the world stage through sport.
“It’s very hard because politically it’s a very difficult time.”
Over the past 12 months under new manager Eddie Howe, the team is being rebuilt and the Magpies find themselves in the top half of the table competing against the established top six.
Logan was speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival to promote her new book The First Half, in which she writes about the death of her brother, her early years in broadcasting and facing sexism at work.
She added of the situation at Newcastle: “As a fan I want the team to do well, I want the manager to be a nice person, who he seems to be, and the players to play well.
“Obviously where the money comes from is something that doesn’t always sit very well with people, and quite rightly.
“But then I think you have to kind of say if I am going to judge that then I wouldn’t go to Sainsbury’s either because that is apparently owned, almost a quarter I think, by the Qatari state.
“There are so many things in life that don’t sit well with lots of us.
“I’m trying to as a fan just enjoy the fact that at the moment the club and the fans are very happy, because they’ve been very unhappy for a long time with the previous ownership.
“What they’re doing which is very clever and it’s putting a lot into the community and the foundation, and I am patron of the foundation.
“So, I’m trying to see the positives.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub Source : Radio News Hub