Amanda Staveley of Newcastle believes it is Unfair Roman Abramovich is ‘having his football club taken away because of a relationship he may have with someone.’

Amanda Staveley of Newcastle believes it is Unfair Roman Abramovich is ‘having his football club taken away because of a relationship he may have with someone.’

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05 Mar 2022
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Amanda Staveley

Roman Abramovich is ‘getting his football club taken away,’ according to Newcastle United co-chief executive Amanda Staveley.

Staveley was replying to a question on the dangers of foreign ownership of football teams.

‘Geopolitical issues will always exist,’ Staveley said at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit.

‘This world will always have difficulties, and I understand how difficult it is, but I am very upset today that someone’s football club may be taken away because of a relationship they may have with someone.’

‘I don’t believe that is very fair.’

Following Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine, which began last Thursday, Abramovich has put Chelsea up for sale, demanding £3 billion.

Since then, pressure has intensified as the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, has asked the Prime Minister why Abramovich has not yet been sanctioned, to which the Prime Minister has said, ‘It is not right to comment on particular instances.’

The UK government is considering imposing penalties on Russian oligarchs accused of having strong ties to President Vladimir Putin, which Abramovich denies.

If there are any incidences involving Saudi Arabia, Staveley was asked if the events in Russia, and the shockwaves they have sent across sport, resulting in virtually total isolation of the country in terms of participation and investment, cause her concern.

‘No, no, no,’ the executive stated emphatically. ‘I had such faith in the connection.’ It is the Public Investment Fund, not Saudi Arabia.

‘I knew Newcastle had only one major investor.’ I knew who it was, and I knew there would never be a time when this relationship was not right for us and the fans.’ Staveley expressed her love for Saudi Arabia. ‘I believe we have to remember with Saudi Arabia that it is a great, large, vital country that I love,’ she continued. I adore the individuals who work there. It has a young, vibrant population that has changed dramatically throughout the years.

‘I’ve met a lot of interesting folks and I’m looking forward to meeting more.’ ‘I’d rather everyone were enthralled by football than be embroiled in a conflict.’

Amnesty International referred to a prospective Saudi PIF ownership of Newcastle as “sport washing” during discussions.

The human rights group claimed that the government was attempting to utilize the beauty and prestige of top-tier sport as a PR tool to divert attention away from the country’s appalling human rights record.

Amnesty International stated there had been a human rights crackdown under Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s leadership, and that the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi had been hushed up. It also accused a Saudi-led military alliance in Yemen of indiscriminate attacks.

The Saudi Public Investment Fund (Saudi PIF) is the country’s sovereign wealth fund, which funds strategic and commercial initiatives of national importance. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the chairman.

Newcastle’s takeover was approved after the Premier League received assurances that the government would not be involved in the club’s management.

It was ‘very easy in the end,’ according to Staveley, to prove the split to the Premier League.

‘The PIF is a self-contained sovereign wealth fund. ‘It’s run as its own entity,’ she explained. ‘It has its own board of governors,’ says the author.

Staveley stated that she and her husband, Mehrdad Ghodoussi, the club’s current co-chief executives, planned to select a replacement as quickly as possible.

‘We know we aren’t the proper CEO material for Newcastle… because we lack the experience that other CEOs have,’ Staveley added.

‘We are shareholders,’ says the narrator. We wish to collaborate with whoever becomes our new CEO on a daily basis. We’ve got some incredible candidates. We’re looking for the best, and I hope we’re doing a good job; the test will be six months from now.’

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