Newcastle take on Tottenham Hotspur at St. James’ Park in a Premier League meeting on Sunday with the north-east club’s home set to be packed out.
The match will be the first for the Geordie faithful since they bid farewell to widely reviled owner Mike Ashley earlier this month when his £305 million ($420 million) sale of the club to a consortium financed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) was finally approved by the Premier League.
New Saudi non-executive chairman Yasir al-Rumayyan was seen at the stadium ahead of the game as he runs his eye over the club he will have a large say in running alongside UK stakeholders Amanda Staveley – who was the face of the bid – and Jamie Reuben, who is part of a family of billionaire British property tycoons.
But while Magpies fans were seen decked out in Saudi-themed garb in scenes of celebration, there were also protests from those unhappy at the takeover.
As promised by activists, a large poster van featuring an image of murdered Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was driven outside the club’s stadium.
Organizer Blair McDougall, who helped crowdfund the initiative, took aim on Twitter at Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – who has been accused by some of sanctioning Khashoggi’s murder in Istanbul in 2018.
Our poster outside St James’ Park ahead of the first game under their new ownership. Thanks to everyone who gave to the crowdfunded to make this happen and help ensure that MBS cannot sportswash away human rights abuses. #justiceforjamalpic.twitter.com/pGzysPLrWT
“Our poster outside St James’ Park ahead of the first game under their new ownership,” wrote McDougall.
“Thanks to everyone who gave to the crowdfunded to make this happen and help ensure that MBS cannot sportswash away human rights abuses.”
The activist also promised that there would be a plane flying overhead with a similar message around kick-off at 16:30 local time.
A Jamal Khashoggi poster is driven by St James’ Park. One Saudi here who saw it told me it’s “fake news” without being able to say what wasn’t true pic.twitter.com/HrkijlRz6s
“We’re Saudis we can afford anything” pic.twitter.com/C5HZBOJeCF
Newcastle fans have largely greeted the news of the takeover with joy as their club was propelled to unimaginable riches almost overnight after the PIF took. Brinkwire Summary News. For more information, search on the internet.