The fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Wednesday posted an open letter to fans of Newcastle United FC, urging them to oppose a proposed Saudi takeover of the English Premier league club.
“I write to you at a crucial time in the history of your famous football club. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the absolute ruler of Saudi Arabia, is aiming to take over your club by offering a huge sum of money,” wrote Hatice Cengiz.
“I know that many of you are tempted by his offer to get out of the dire situation that has crippled your club for so many years. But the crown prince is accused of ordering Jamal’s murder. All credible investigations have shown his responsibility,” she said.
“My plea to you is to think whether accepting Mohammed bin Salman’s offer is really the right way out of the despair for your club and city,” she wrote. “How can it be, when your club will be controlled by someone who should be tried for murder, as we would rightly expect for anyone accused of killing a loved one!”
“You as the loyal fans do have a big say in this,” she wrote. “I implore you all to unite to protect your beloved club and city from the Crown Prince and those around him. They are making this move not to help you and not with your best interests in mind but solely to serve themselves.”
“Now is the moment to stand tall together for the game, your club, your City and your country in order to slam shut the door on this offensive deal. It is not a lifeline for your club, but rather the worst possible outcome for all of us decent and caring people,” she wrote.
The current owner of Newcastle United, British billionaire Mike Ashley, put the club up for sale in 2017; he has owned the club since 2007.
Were the deal to go forward, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) would hold an 80% in the club in a deal worth £300 million. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the chairman of the PIF.
In addition to the murder of Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia is accused of numerous human rights abuses as well as pirating Premier League matches from Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports, which owns the rights.
Western intelligence agencies believe bin Salman ordered the murder of Khashoggi, who was killed and dismembered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, a charge bin Salman denies.
Local media has reported that despite the controversy, the deal is expected to go ahead.