Sunderland Owner slams Premier League for Saudi ownership of Newcastle

FORMER Sunderland chairman Sir Bob Murray has blasted the Premier League for permitting the Saudi Arabian takeover of Newcastle United.

The Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) owns 80 per cent of Newcastle, and St James’ Park recently staged two friendly matches featuring the Saudi Arabian national side.

The Premier League gave the PIF’s takeover on Tyneside the green light despite strong criticism from groups like Amnesty International, who have campaigned against the Saudi state’s dreadful human rights record, and Murray, who was chairman of Sunderland for 20 years before selling up to Niall Quinn and the Drumaville consortium in 2006, despairs at what he sees at St James’ Park.

In an interview with the Daily Mirror, Murray stated: “Kids are playing in Newcastle’s Saudi away kit, which represents a country that frequently infringes on human rights.

“We sold out last week’s Lionesses game at the Stadium of Light. We recently watched Saudi Arabia play South Korea and Costa Rica at a another club across the road. Which stadium do I prefer to be at?

“I don’t think Newcastle’s ownership will change for a thousand years. It’s not appropriate to utilize football to advance a nation’s standing. There is a chance of injury. Nothing will end here. It shouldn’t have been allowed to happen, in the interests of the city or the supporters, but it was.

He has been thinking back on his time as chairman of Sunderland and the ups and downs of the rivalry between the Black Cats and Newcastle while he was at Roker Park and subsequently the Stadium of Light.

When the Halls and Freddy Shepherd were in charge, he claimed that there was no connection between Newcastle and Sunderland. On the day of the game, we saw them, but there was no decorum.

“Mike Ashley delighted in crushing Newcastle. In a team that size, he was demoted twice. When you have a bad owner, it usually passes to another poor owner, like with (Ellis) Short in this case.

“Sir Bobby (Robson) would frequently visit and observe us. He received a job offer from Tom Cowie, the former chairman of Sunderland. In a black-and-white and red-and-white clothing, Kevin Keegan participated in the Great North Run. He was the model citizen.

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