Newcastle United, a great football club with great historical significance in the chronicles of English Premier League. A club run to the ground by the careless ownership of a businessman, more focused on making profit than bringing joy to the numerous fans, enamoured of the Magpies. 14 years that estranged the fans, deprived them of the joy in watching their favourite team play the great game. Fourteen years filled with disappointment and bitter taste.
Mike Ashley, former owner of Newcastle United
Nobody will mourn for Ashley's departure; this much is clear. And his custodianship is not an isolated case. The football world is full of exploiting, scheming owners, The Lims, The Kroenkes, the Glazers, all of them renowned businessmen, who one would think, know how to build a successful enterprise. But alas, the motives of these estranged owners lie far from the desires of the fans. Looking at their assets as a business endeavour more than a sporting project, they aren't there for the giving, on the contrary, they are there for the taking, sucking the living force off their clubs like leaches clinging to their host, parasites.
"Don’t they get it? The club is ours and we can do anything we want with it and no one can say anything."
Kim Lim, daughter of Peter Lim - owner of Valencia CF
Only the fans of the affected clubs know how it feels, hopeless, deprived of the pride of the past glory, looking into the gloomy perspective of their beloved club turning into a low-to-mid table factor, glad to remain in the top flight instead of heading downwards into the abyss of relegation. Good riddance!
And here comes Prince Charming, the saviour, on the back of a white horse. Or in this case, on the back of a camel? A golden Lambo? What do these guys ride nowadays?
Anyway, coming to bring joy back to the loyal fans, elevate the club to new levels of triumph unseen before, a new era of glory destined to write an article into the football archives with black golden letters. With blood and tears.
Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia
Not the blood and tears spilt on the football pitch by the hardworking players, though. Stains, soaked deeply into the governing hands of the new powerhouse. Stains, whose origins have nothing to do with English Premier League, not even with England, or football for that matter. Stains, that no amount of money or oil can wash away. But we aren't here to discuss the atrocities of a foreign sovereign, are we? The curious reader has all the information available to him to dive deep into the terrible crimes against humanity that happen on the other end of the world. We are here to discuss the reception to a new football club owner.
And the football world is quite a reactionary one. Easy to jump to conclusions, pushed by the trends of the day:
A truly moral community, dedicated to fighting for equal rights between all humans, all clubs, small as well as big. Determined to protect the values of the game against aggressors who feel entitled to success, exclusively granted by their elitism.
In fact, we have already seen a reaction to a foreign dictator, a fascist, a Nazi. Victor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, who judging by the reaction of the football world, is responsible for public murders of his political enemies by dismembering, bombing of a foreign country, violating human rights, oppressing women as well as homosexual, transgender people and aliens. One would only fear how the football world would react to the new member of the family, right?
Victor Orban, prime minister of Hungary, depicted as a Nazi dictator
Well, not quite. Surely a negative reaction is imminent. The questionable morality behind the new powerhouse will stir the pot and the noise will probably muffle every other topic on the moral horizon of the football world. It will be the topic for pundits and journalists for quite some time, but it will finally subside, go to the background and remain as a permanent stain on a badly-washed carpet. Time will pass and heal all morally-fragile entities concerned.
UEFA and FIFA, the saviours of football, the good Sheriffs, protectors of the poor, weak and defenceless, will turn their watchful eyes wide shut towards the new threat to morality as they have many times in the past. Probably in a couple of years we would witness the World Cup in the top-notch state of art complexes, specially designed for the event and built in a blink of an eye by hardworking devoted followers of the Saudi family too. "With great power comes great responsibility", a friend of mine used to say. Little did he know about my other friend, who says "With great power comes great profit". Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Aleksander Čeferin, President of UEFA
The other clubs, victims of the financial inequality of the situation, would surely fight fiercely against the intruder, putting aside their disagreements and petty conflicts of interests for the greater cause. They would go to arms in a united stance against the new conquerors of Europe, using their every means to oppose the intrusion. They would probably rant about for a couple of years, but finally subside to acceptance of the new order and fight for the bones under the table of the new masters, like dogs in a medieval New Castle.
Dogs fighting for bones under the table in a medieval New Castle
The fans of the other clubs would resent Newcastle, as they resent the other similar football family members, pray for their demise and failure, hoping someone to stop them in their conquest of the holy grounds of football triumph, but to what avail? Money can't buy you class, they say. Well, at least it can buy you trophies, and what is classier than a trophy?
UEFA Champions League trophy
The new FFP regulations, pushed under the influence of the newly empowered would only serve to render them even more powerful, widening the gap. Unlike the proposed model of the European Super League, their elitism and exclusivity to the rights of success would find its roots in no other place, but the financial realm, so no one could actually have a legal objection.
Newcastle United fans
But what about the fans of Newcastle, how would they feel about the morality of their new owner? Would they feel dirty? Would they think their sacred St. James' Park has been desecrated by the atrocities of their Prince? Would they detest, disdain, resent the new owner? Would they want him out and away?
Well, sad as it is, no. The harsh reality of the football world is that they wouldn't care. The majority of them probably wouldn't even know. Why should they care about the violation of women rights in Saudi Arabia, when the facts speak of a surge in domestic violence in the UK after the Euro 2021 final?
The brutal truth hits us like a drunk English fan hitting his wife with the back of his hand in an impulse of alcohol induced rage - the average football fan is a simple man, he cares more about spending a joyful Sunday evening drinking a couple of pints with the lads at the local pub, watching his team destroy the whipping boys of the league, than about some God-forgotten Middle East country and its inequality issues. He probably doesn't even know where this country is located in the first place. This isn't his problem to solve, there are bigger, more important people to take care of such stuff, he isn't paid to solve the humanitarian problems of the world.
He gladly celebrates the victories on the Allahu Akbar Park, formerly known as St. James' Park, a small price to pay for the glorious days of joy on the renovated piece of art stadium. He is happy as long as his team wins. The more they win, the happier he is. Damn, sometimes he is so happy that he smacks another fellow on the face, why is he wearing the wrong jersey, hey? Or his wife, how dare she dust the TV while he's watching the new Ronaldo score his hat-trick?
And with all the talent in the league, damn sure it's coming home anytime soon!
Newcastle United fans
Sad. Sad but true, this is the hypocritical football reality. Money can't buy you class, but there is not much class left in the football world anyway. Trophies are the next best thing. And if you want to succeed, the solution is simple - get bought by an oil state backed fund.
Soundtrack: Evanescence - Taking Over Me