A protest plane flies over Newcastle v Tottenham at kick off with a van adorning a message parked outside St James’ Park on Sunday.
This televised fixture, with a sold out attendance of around 52,000 was always going to get plenty of attention, so when those against the Magpies’ takeover heard about it, they quickly got planning.
As we know, the £300million takeover was confirmed last week as Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment fund ended Mike Ashley’s 14-year ownership of the North East outfit.
But there has been strong opposition to the takeover due to the human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
Protestors quickly took themselves to St James’ Park ahead of their first game since the takeover, read for the media and fans to arrive.
A van was spotted driving around the stadium with an image of Khashoggi and Bin Salman, and the message on the side of the vehicle simply read: “Murdered 2.10.18.”
Human rights organisation Amnesty international have stated the deal was an attempt to “sportswash their [Saudi Arabia’s] appalling human rights record with the glamour of top-flight football.”
And Amnesty’s CEO Sacha Deshmukh said: “Instead of allowing those implicated in serious human rights violations to walk into English football simply because they have deep pockets, we’ve urged the Premier League to change their owners’ and directors’ test to address human rights issues.
“The phrase ‘human rights’ doesn’t even appear in the owners’ and directors’ test despite English football supposedly adhering to Fifa standards.
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 17, 2021
“As with Formula One, elite boxing, golf or tennis, an association with top-tier football is a very attractive means of rebranding a country or person with a tarnished reputation.
“The Premier League needs to better understand the dynamic of sportswashing and tighten its ownership rules.”
Bin Salman is the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and the country’s second most important position after the King.
He is the son of King Salman, however in reality the most important and influential person in the Kingdom, given that his father suffers from Alzheimer’s.
Bin Salman obtained the position in summer 2017 after a power struggle with cousin Mohammad Bin Nayef, who was initially named Crown Prince but subsequently removed from all positions.
The 34-year-old also serves as the country’s Minister of Defence and deputy prime minister.
THE MATCH ITSELF:
It was a dream start for Newcastle, the kind you’d dismiss as ridiculous in a script.
Javier Manquillo was found on the right after Tottenham gave the ball away and his cross laid it on a plate for Callum Wilson to dive in and score with his head.
Pat Nevin (Former Scotland winger on BBC Radio 5 Live): “It’s a cracker of an early goal. What a fantastic start and what a great goal, Spurs are absolutely shocked.
“We were asking before the game: ‘Can these fans have an impact?’ Er, yeah. I think so.”
“He makes a difference, whoever owns the club!” 💥
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 17, 2021
However the balloon was popped on the 17th minute when Tottenham equalised.
An excellent finish from Tanguy Ndombele, who was set up near the edge of the box by Sergio Reguilon and made no mistake with a fine finish into the corner of the net.
It was greeted by the first bit of silence from the Newcastle fans, who immediately rallied to roar away their disappointment.
On the 23rd minute, just like that, after the earliest of setbacks, Tottenham turned it around.
It was a wonderful finish from Harry Kane, who ran on to the ball behind the home defence and flicked the ball superbly past the onrushing Karl Darlow.
Play was halted at St James Park in the 41st minute after a medical emergency in the stands, with fans made players aware of emergency in East Stand, before players notified referee Andre Marriner.
Newcastle club doctor Paul Catterson and other medics were waved onto the pitch to attend to supporter, carrying a stretcher and defibrillator. Referee Andre Marriner then brought players off the pitch, with the first half suspended.
On the 48th minute of the first half, an outstanding goal from Tottenham saw them take a two-goal lead just before half time.
Moura linked with Ndombele, then skinned Hayden and spread for Kane on the right of the box.
He laid it on a plate for Son, across the face of goal, and the South Korean converted at the far post!
With minutes of the second half remaining, Jonjo Shelvey, was booked twice within minutes again, getting sent off as he tripped Sergio Reguilon, who had got goal side of him near the Newcastle box.
There was still time however for Newcastle to get a second, albeit through an own goal via Eric Dier on the 89th minute.
There was nobody near Dier, he just couldn’t get his feet sorted, he tried to half-head, half-knee it and he got it all wrong.
Twitter users reacted as a protest plane flies over Newcastle at kick off with a van parked outside St James’ Park
Our poster outside St James’ Park ahead of the first game under their new ownership. Thanks to everyone who gave to the crowdfunded to make this happen and help ensure that MBS cannot sportswash away human rights abuses. #justiceforjamal pic.twitter.com/pGzysPLrWT
— Blair McDougall (@blairmcdougall) October 17, 2021
— Keith Downie (@SkySports_Keith) October 17, 2021
Might wanna post this lads pic.twitter.com/mtwC7yc5wz
— Dylan (@dylanthfc_) October 17, 2021
@neilTheMagpie: I’ll be interested to see what view @northumbriapol take of this. All roadside advertising is an offence under the Highways Act 1980, unless specifically permitted by the Highways Authority. I take it that @blairmcdougall has the relevant permissions? Recipe for trouble this …
@sarahhunter25: I don’t remember you doing this for F1 twitter, Facebook, disney, so why just Newcastle? Nobody was up in arms when the PIF invested in them, but for Newcastle you do.
@_Sha_Mon_: Quick point worth noting. NUFC arent owned by Saudi state otherwise they wouldn’t have been given clearance by EPL. The consortium is PIF and PCP partners. Don’t let this fact get in the way of your little plans though
@slimfatboyrun39: Hypocritical that this van uses fuel supplied by the Arabs and your using social media to publicise it also part owned by them . Its not necessarily what’s happened but come on this is the first time you have done this
@YesiWalker: In all seriousness what do you expect to gain from this? And surely you can understand this feels a way to make #nufc fans seem the bad guys? Simply for being happy after 14 years in having new owners. Why here? Why at St James? Hoping for answers @blairmcdougall
@DemiMagister: Whilst I understand your motive. It’s not the fault of the city of Newcastle or fans of the club that this has happened. Bringing this here will incite animosity. Or is that your aim? Look forward to seeing this parked outside @McLarenF1 HQ in the morning too.
What an atmosphere for the Newcastle players to walk out to 👏 🔥 pic.twitter.com/gCwUoi9uXH
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) October 17, 2021
@RyanMKIV: The atmosphere at St James’ lasted about 10 minutes until the Newcastle fans remembered they still have a pretty shit team.
@MentalityGiants: “The Middle East has arrived in the North East. The Magpies have won the ownership lottery …and some” No surprise Martin Tyler of Sky Sports is gushing and worshipping at the font of money
@tweetSP0RT: Nauseating coverage. Sky helping the Saudis with their laundry shouldn’t be surprised the F1 team have been similarly meek about Bahrian/Qatar/Saudi Arabia. #NEWTOT
@taylor14_joe: This Newcastle atmosphere is exactly why they deserve this takeover, proper club, proper fans
@sufferingTHFC: As raucous as the Newcastle fan base is, they’re probably one of the most negative and audibly toxic when things aren’t going well. Can already hear the crowd turning – let’s take advantage and put some daylight between us #COYS
CraigAMcCann: Newcastle fans rocking up like they are a completely different side because of a new owner forgetting it’s the same dross on the pitch managed by the biggest fraud to still manage