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4 Jun, 2020 19:36

'I'm confident they'll block it': Premier League could STOP Saudi Arabia-backed takeover of Newcastle over murder row - report

'I'm confident they'll block it': Premier League could STOP Saudi Arabia-backed takeover of Newcastle over murder row - report

The English Premier League is reportedly ready to reject the proposed $370 million takeover of Newcastle by a Saudi-led consortium after listening to an appeal from Hatice Cengiz, the fiancee of murdered dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

The completion of a takeover that would make Newcastle one of the richest clubs in the world appeared to be close in mid-May before hitting a major stumbling block last week when a World Trade Organization report linked alleged illegal television network beoutQ to the Saudi Arabian state.

Now Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has reportedly written a supportive letter of response to Hatice Cengiz’s lawyer, who had contacted him twice to urge him to reconsider sanctioning the deal in light of alleged murder and human rights abuses.

Masters initially refused to meet Cengiz, who appealed to Newcastle fans to oppose the seismic takeover in an open letter on Twitter, but has now told her representatives that he is "extremely sympathetic" to her cause, according to the Telegraph.

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Cengiz warned supporters and leaders that Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is fronting the takeover and has been directly implicated in the killing of journalist Khashoggi by the United Nations and CIA, would "greatly stain" the Premier League as part of a move to "sportswash" a series of alleged human rights crimes.

When Cengiz's lawyer informed Masters that the "credible evidence" of the Crown Prince's alleged involvement in Khashoggi's murder would "clearly not permit" his group from buying Newcastle, Masters is said to have replied: "I assure you and your client that her representations are being fully considered in our process.”

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Saudi Arabia has always denied that the prince had any involvement in the killing, but Cengiz was said to have been greatly encouraged by the reported development.

“Mr. Masters’ response gives me optimism that the Premier League will do the right thing here," she is quoted as saying.

"Until Bin Salman is held accountable for his role in Jamal’s brutal murder, organizations must refrain from doing any business with him.”

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