Sports broadcaster Gabby Logan is “trying to see the positives” in the Newcastle United takeover but admits she is uncomfortable with the club she supports having Saudi-backed owners.
Amanda Staveley’s consortium, which includes financier PCP Capital Partners, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) and Reuben Brothers, has just celebrated the first anniversary of the £305m acquisition.
The sale of the Tyneside club by sportswear tycoon Mike Ashley to the consortium drew criticism because Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF has an 80% stake.
Campaign group Amnesty International has voiced its ongoing concern over human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia and has repeatedly accused the Gulf state of “sports laundering”.
Logan, who is a keen Newcastle United supporter and started his TV career in the city, said he wants to see the team do well but questions about the club’s source of funding “don’t always get asked they get on really well with people.”
He added: “I was having this conversation with someone earlier because of Jurgen Klopp’s comments highlighting Newcastle United, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City as they are the clubs that are owned by the states of the United Arab Emirates.
“It’s very difficult not to say that sport is going through a period at the moment where what looks like a sporting wash is taking place with certain types of entities and countries trying to project themselves onto the world stage in through sport.
“It’s very difficult because politically it’s a very difficult time.”
Over the past 12 months under new manager Eddie Howe, the squad has been rebuilding and the Magpies are in the top half of the table competing against the established top six.
Logan was speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival to promote his new book The First Half, in which he writes about the death of his brother, his early years in broadcasting and dealing with sexism at work.
He added on the situation at Newcastle: “As a fan, I want the team to do well, I want the manager to be a good person, who he seems to be, and the players to play well.
“Obviously, where the money comes from is something that people don’t always like, and rightfully so.
“But then I think you’ll have to say a little if I’m going to judge that I wouldn’t go to Sainsbury’s either because it’s apparently owned, almost a quarter, I think, by the state of Qatar.
“There are so many things in life that many of us don’t like.
“As a fan, I try to enjoy the fact that at the moment the club and the fans are very happy, because they have been very unhappy with the previous ownership for a long time.
“What they’re doing is very smart and it’s giving a lot to the community and to the foundation, and I’m a patron of the foundation.
“So I’m trying to see the positives.”