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Newcastle takeover: Premier League will 'fully consider' calls to block Saudi bid from murdered Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee

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Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has said that calls to block Newcastle United’s controversial Saudi Arabia-led takeover bid are being “fully considered”, but has refused to meet the fiancee of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Hatice Cengiz has spoken out against the intended actions of a consortium that is being backed by the Public Investment Fund, with an offer to buy Newcastle from Mike Ashley currently under consideration. In a letter sent by her lawyer, Rodney Dixon QC, Cengiz accused the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia of using “sportswashing” in order to cover up human rights abuses that have taken place in the Arab state.

Khashoggi was murdered in 2018 at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by government agents after repeatedly criticising the state, though his body has never been found.

As a result, Ms Cengiz has actively put pressure on the Premier League to rule the planned takeover of Newcastle as illegitimate due to their Owners and Directors’ Test, with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman responsible for the Public Investment Fund that is providing a substantial proportion of the £300m takeover.

“The rules would clearly not permit Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and the Public Investment Fund from acquiring Newcastle in light of the available, credible evidence about his involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Dixon said in a letter to Masters on behalf if Ms Cendiz.

In response, Masters has said that the “private and confidential” nature of the takeover process means that a meeting to discuss her concerns is not possible – along with the fact that her complaints have been given to the media – but did stress that Khashoggi’s murder does play a part in their review of the takeover.

In a letter seen by The Telegraph, Masters said: “Of course, I remain extremely sympathetic to your client’s position, but I am unable to correspond in any more detail than we have already on this matter.

“Our process is strictly private and confidential and must remain so.

“For this reason, a meeting is not possible particularly in light of correspondence on this confidential matter appearing in the media.

“However, I assure you and your client that her representations are being fully considered in our process.”

Cengiz reacted positively to the response, telling The Telegraph that she is confident the Premier League will “do the right thing” and refuse to allow the takeover to go through.

“Mr Masters’ response gives me optimism that the Premier League will do the right thing here,” Ms Cengiz said.

“I’m confident that if the Premier League follows their own rules and mandates, especially the Owners’ and Directors’ Test, they will block the takeover of Newcastle United by Mohammed bin Salman and the Public Investment Fund he chairs.

“Until Bin Salman is held accountable for his role in Jamal’s brutal murder, organisations must refrain from doing any business with him.”

The Crown Prince has strongly denied ordering the murder of Khashoggi. When appearing on United States network CBS, he was asked directly if he was behind the killing, to which he replied: “Absolutely not.”

Bin Salman did accept that he “took full responsibility” as the murder was “was committed by individuals working for the Saudi government”.

He added: “This was a mistake. And I must take all actions to avoid such a thing in the future.”


This news item was provided by the The Independent - Premier League website - the original link is: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/newcastle-takeover-saudi-arabia-mike-ashley-bin-salman-khashoggi-hatice-cengiz-a9550131.html

Premier League's debate over neutral venues reveals an ingrained mistrust of football fans

The Independent employs over 100 journalists around the world to bring you news you can trust. Please consider a contribution or subscription.

Beaches and parks are packed. The lockdown is fraying at the edges with mixed messages coming from Westminster. Yet still the nation is fixated on whether fans will gather outside stadiums when top-flight football returns in 13 days’ time.

It has been a recurring theme during the sport’s three-month hiatus and was discussed again at the Premier League meeting on Thursday. The assumption is that supporters will be drawn to grounds by some sort of Pavlovian response, regardless of any threat to their own health or that of their families. This reflects a deep-seated disdain for fans.

Fanaticism has its limits. Much of the concern has been targeted at Liverpool supporters. Jurgen Klopp’s team are on the verge of bringing the title to Anfield for the first time in 30 years and the implication is that Kopites will be unable to resist the temptation to gather to celebrate.

Even the city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, suggested that Liverpool fans might turn up in their thousands when the team seals the Premier League. Anderson should know better.

The impact of the Champions League match against Atletico Madrid on 11 March has been profound. Almost 3,000 Atletico fans were allowed to come to Anfield at a time when the Spanish capital was one of the epicentres of the Coronavirus emergency. Two weeks after Atletico’s visit, Merseyside experienced a surge of Covid-19 deaths which peaked almost a month after the game. This is the most direct link between football and the virus in the UK. It is unimaginable that supporters who were placed in danger by the decision to go ahead with the match would willingly put themselves at risk again.

There are deeper reasons, too, why Liverpool fans are unlikely to act carelessly. These are the children and grandchildren of Hillsborough; they understand the far-reaching effects of tragedy and have no appetite to recklessly jeopardise others.

Yet it is not just Liverpool supporters whose good sense is being questioned. The ingrained mistrust of fans cuts across rivalries. Football’s followers have had the role of folk devils foisted on them for more than half a century. Even in the era of hooliganism, the fear factor was frequently exaggerated. Now, in the sedate world of the Premier League, there is barely any justification for the sort of snap judgements the authorities and public make about supporters.

The experience of Germany has been instructive. Barely any people gravitated towards stadiums during behind-closed-doors games in the Bundesliga. We are likely to see a similar pattern when the Premier League resumes.

Those who like to think the worst of fans frequently cite Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League tie against Borussia Dortmund that took place on the same night as Atletico’s ill-fated visit to Anfield. Although supporters were not allowed inside, thousands gathered outside the Parc des Princes. This was before the full gravity of the epidemic became apparent, however. France had experienced less than 50 fatalities at that time. The carefree mood in the French capital disappeared rapidly as the death-toll mounted.

There were concerns in Portugal yesterday when the Primeira Liga resumed. A group of Porto supporters threatened to attend the game against Famalicao and chant throughout the match. They were kept away from the stadium during their team’s 2-1 defeat. Scenes like this are unlikely to replicated at English grounds. Portugal has suffered less than 1,500 Covid-19 deaths. Even sticking to questionable Government figures, the UK has seen almost 40,000 citizens succumb to the virus. Those figures are as chilling to football supporters as anyone else.

Porto supporters outside the Municipal Stadium in Vila Nova de Famalicao (Getty)

The game takes on a different flavour when played in front of empty seats. The veracity of the axiom ‘football without fans is nothing’ will be endorsed over the coming months. But the supporters who enhance the experience by providing atmosphere deserve more respect than has been afforded them in recent weeks.

By the time the Premier League kicks off the lockdown will be even more ragged. It is unravelling on a daily basis without the help of fans. The overwhelming majority of supporters will remain at home and watch the action on the television. For all the talk about people assembling outside stadiums, football fans are likely to prove more trustworthy than some government special advisors. The forecourts and car parks of Anfield, Old Trafford and the Emirates will be significantly emptier on matchdays than the nation’s beaches, parks and historic beauty spots.


This news item was provided by the The Independent - Premier League website - the original link is: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/neutral-venues-fans-liverpool-fixtures-a9549016.html

Premier League's debate over neutral venues reveals an ingrained mistrust of football fans

The Independent employs over 100 journalists around the world to bring you news you can trust. Please consider a contribution or subscription.

Beaches and parks are packed. The lockdown is fraying at the edges with mixed messages coming from Westminster. Yet still the nation is fixated on whether fans will gather outside stadiums when top-flight football returns in 13 days’ time.

It has been a recurring theme during the sport’s three-month hiatus and was discussed again at the Premier League meeting on Thursday. The assumption is that supporters will be drawn to grounds by some sort of Pavlovian response, regardless of any threat to their own health or that of their families. This reflects a deep-seated disdain for fans.

Fanaticism has its limits. Much of the concern has been targeted at Liverpool supporters. Jurgen Klopp’s team are on the verge of bringing the title to Anfield for the first time in 30 years and the implication is that Kopites will be unable to resist the temptation to gather to celebrate.

Even the city’s mayor, Joe Anderson, suggested that Liverpool fans might turn up in their thousands when the team seals the Premier League. Anderson should know better.

The impact of the Champions League match against Atletico Madrid on 11 March has been profound. Almost 3,000 Atletico fans were allowed to come to Anfield at a time when the Spanish capital was one of the epicentres of the Coronavirus emergency. Two weeks after Atletico’s visit, Merseyside experienced a surge of Covid-19 deaths which peaked almost a month after the game. This is the most direct link between football and the virus in the UK. It is unimaginable that supporters who were placed in danger by the decision to go ahead with the match would willingly put themselves at risk again.

There are deeper reasons, too, why Liverpool fans are unlikely to act carelessly. These are the children and grandchildren of Hillsborough; they understand the far-reaching effects of tragedy and have no appetite to recklessly jeopardise others.

Yet it is not just Liverpool supporters whose good sense is being questioned. The ingrained mistrust of fans cuts across rivalries. Football’s followers have had the role of folk devils foisted on them for more than half a century. Even in the era of hooliganism, the fear factor was frequently exaggerated. Now, in the sedate world of the Premier League, there is barely any justification for the sort of snap judgements the authorities and public make about supporters.

The experience of Germany has been instructive. Barely any people gravitated towards stadiums during behind-closed-doors games in the Bundesliga. We are likely to see a similar pattern when the Premier League resumes.

Those who like to think the worst of fans frequently cite Paris Saint-Germain’s Champions League tie against Borussia Dortmund that took place on the same night as Atletico’s ill-fated visit to Anfield. Although supporters were not allowed inside, thousands gathered outside the Parc des Princes. This was before the full gravity of the epidemic became apparent, however. France had experienced less than 50 fatalities at that time. The carefree mood in the French capital disappeared rapidly as the death-toll mounted.

There were concerns in Portugal yesterday when the Primeira Liga resumed. A group of Porto supporters threatened to attend the game against Famalicao and chant throughout the match. They were kept away from the stadium during their team’s 2-1 defeat. Scenes like this are unlikely to replicated at English grounds. Portugal has suffered less than 1,500 Covid-19 deaths. Even sticking to questionable Government figures, the UK has seen almost 40,000 citizens succumb to the virus. Those figures are as chilling to football supporters as anyone else.

Porto supporters outside the Municipal Stadium in Vila Nova de Famalicao (Getty)

The game takes on a different flavour when played in front of empty seats. The veracity of the axiom ‘football without fans is nothing’ will be endorsed over the coming months. But the supporters who enhance the experience by providing atmosphere deserve more respect than has been afforded them in recent weeks.

By the time the Premier League kicks off the lockdown will be even more ragged. It is unravelling on a daily basis without the help of fans. The overwhelming majority of supporters will remain at home and watch the action on the television. For all the talk about people assembling outside stadiums, football fans are likely to prove more trustworthy than some government special advisors. The forecourts and car parks of Anfield, Old Trafford and the Emirates will be significantly emptier on matchdays than the nation’s beaches, parks and historic beauty spots.


This news item was provided by the The Independent - Premier League website - the original link is: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/neutral-venues-fans-liverpool-fixtures-a9549016.html

Marcos Llorente spent lockdown watching repeats of Atletico Madrid's famous Champions League win at Liverpool

The Independent employs over 100 journalists around the world to bring you news you can trust. Please consider a contribution or subscription.

Atletico Madrid’s Marcos Llorente was the hero on the night they knocked holders Liverpool out of the Champions League just before the novel coronavirus pandemic disrupted football and he has been watching repeats of the match during lockdown.

Llorente scored for Atletico in the first half of extra time in the last-16 second leg in Merseyside on March 11 and then struck again before Alvaro Morata rounded off a 3-2 win for the visitors to secure a 4-2 aggregate victory.

“We all enjoyed that night a lot. I’ve watched it a good few times in these last few months,” Llorente told Spanish radio station Cadena Ser on Friday.

“At home I’ve had all the time in the world and every time I see it the hairs on my skin stand up. I’ve watched the whole match a couple of times and extra time three or four.”

The great nephew of Real Madrid’s six-times European Cup winner Paco Gento, Llorente had made little impact at Atletico since switching from Real last year and had only scored three goals before his quick-fire double against Liverpool.

A few weeks after knocking out Juergen Klopp’s side, Llorente revealed on his Instagram account that he had named his dog Anfield.

The victory over Liverpool was Atletico’s last match before the Spanish season was postponed due to the pandemic.

They returned to individual training in early May and progressed to group training later in the month before resuming full training last Monday. Atleti’s first game back when the Spanish campaign restarts is at Athletic Bilbao on June 14.

Reuters


This news item was provided by the The Independent - Premier League website - the original link is: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/european/marcos-llorente-atletico-madrid-champions-league-liverpool-la-liga-a9550086.html

Transfer rumours: Chilwell, Werner, Vertonghen, Longstaff

England left-back Ben Chilwell, 23, is tempted by a huge move to Chelsea later this summer but has not yet asked to quit Leicester City. (Mirror)