Newcastle United, eh? Haway the extrajudicial murderers.
When it comes to the Geordies, what I really want to talk about is the stupid stuff, not the evil stuff. I want to talk about Ross Barkley’s lung burning run and goal against them. Kevin Keegan being a bit weird. About how their fans think they’re big despite not winning a league since the 1920s. Jamal Khashoggi? I’d prefer to talk about Jamal Lascelles sh*tty breath. About how when Americans see the Toon army on TV for the first time they always ask, “why are they all dressed like refs?” I want to talk about how Newcastle United always make this Everton fan feel better, because they show us that things could always be worse.
Right now though, they don’t really make me feel better at all. The acquisition of Newcastle United by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, isn’t the kind of news to make me smile.
In the tribal pantomime that is football there are good guys and bad guys. Nicely compartmentalized. In my son’s match at the weekend, the opponents were the bad ones. They were dirty. On the TV, Liverpool are the bad guys. The devils team. Absurdly lucky cheats. In international football, if you’re English the Germans are the bad guys. Unfairly.
But none of this is real. It’s artifice, to whip us up and generate phlegm flecked fandom. The new owners of Newcastle United REALLY killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi and chopped up his body with a bone saw in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. They REALLY used a plane from the sovereign wealth fund to do it. A plane from the very fleet which ferried the new owners over to a joyous throng of Newcastle fans.
I don’t want to talk about bone saws. But we have to. Our lovely, stupid, silly sport had been compromised. This isn’t the first dodgy owner of a Premier League club, (at this point we literally all have dodgy owners) but it is the worst.
How on earth did the Premier League sign off on this takeover? Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud makes Jeff Bezos look like Bill Kenwright, and money definitely will help the Premier League swallow this bitter ownership pill. You could lift Donald Trump’s quote about the Saudis and put it directly in the mouths of the Premier League fat cats: “They are buying hundreds of billions of dollars of things from this country. We are with Saudi Arabia.”
This is a triumph of value over values.
‘Course, there’ll be those who say I don’t have to talk about bone saws. Some will conveniently compartmentalize it. Yes, it’s bad, but let us enjoy the football. The pundits will moan a bit, but then get down to the football. There will be five hermetically sealed minutes of hand wringing in the television studios for the first few games, and then onto football analysis. Numbskull pundits will be tiptoeing around like footballing Basil Fawltys “Whatever you do, don’t Mention the saw!”
Saps like Robbie Savage will soon resume churning out tame takes. They exist to talk football and nothing else. If White Hart Lane was leveled by a nuke it would be “a shame but from a footballing perspective, but…huge news for Arsenal”
It shouldn’t be separated though, should it? Why separate it, when it is woven into the club? The man that funds Newcastle United was the man who wanted Jamal Khassoghi chopped up into little bits.
And there’s no doubt the initial outcry will die down. Commentators will purr at the shiny signings, trill about the victories, coo about the sexy football. Airplanes will fly messages, but they’ll stop. They shouldn’t. It should be mentioned as often as dogs think about squirrels.
“And there go BONE SAW! Newcastle United with BONE SAW! another swift counter BONE SAW! attack. What a BONE SAW! beautiful through ball, BONE SAW! and a finish BONE SAW! to match! One-nil BONE SAW! o the Geordies, BONE SAW! a result, which BONE SAW! if it holds, BONE SAW! will send shock BONE SAW! waves through European BONE SAW! football!”
Alas, this won’t happen. Bone saws and gruesome murders aren’t as compelling as big name signings, And make no mistake, there will be big signings – and crammed trophy cabinets – in Newcastle United’s future.
It’ll be interesting to see how swiftly the bone saws and bodies are swept under the carpet. How quickly the bots are mobilized on Twitter. And if not bots, why not Twitter itself? Or the Premier League? The Saudis were already caught infiltrating Twitter itself, and they sucked out the names and personal info of dissident tweeters, those that complained about the kingdom – they already know that money can get them anything they want…
I’ll ask again: what’s black and white and red all over?
The blood on the hands of Newcastle United’s owners…