The Head of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund (PIF), His Majesty Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, went shopping in Europe earlier this month and decided to purchase an 80% majority stake in Newcastle United FC, effectively owning the club to prove his good sportsmanship, not just in political arenas and TV interviews and global embassies, but also on the football field.
Mohammad’s sportsmanship was clear in his decision to take over the club ranked 19th in the Premier league, turning it from a ‘club in crisis’ to one of the wealthiest overnight. This gesture shows his willingness to lift up the weak and not just settle for trampling over them.
Mohammad said that this takeover will have a profound impact on regional diplomacy and communication.
“Now we can engage in healthy competition with our neighbours; me and Mansour al-Nahyan can sit together in front of the flat screens or in British stadium terraces and cheer for our respective teams together, each for his own club,” he said.
Commenting on the English leagues’ emergency meeting objecting to the Saudi takeover, Mohammad said that he can also take over their other clubs and listen to their concerns and grievances openly as the ultimate owner.
Regionally, experts are concerned about any prospective Champions League match between Mohammad’s new club and Paris SG, owned by Emir Tamim bin Hamad, Qatar’s ruler. Such a match-up could gravely disrupt the peace between the two neighbors turned rivals.