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Emil Krafth comments on Newcastle United's Saudi ownership

Newcastle United’s Saudi ownership has received a lot of criticism since the takeover went through last year.

The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia bought 80% of the club on October 7th, taking the club off of Mike Ashley’s hands alongside Amanda Staveley and Jamie Reuben.

After a prolonged process, the Saudi-backed consortium completed a deal to buy Newcastle for £305million almost six months ago.

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The deal was initially agreed in April 2020. However, issues regarding separation halted proceedings. The Premier League needed more assurances that PIF were separate to the Saudi state.

Those assurances arrived in October 2021, with the Premier League writing: “The Premier League has now received legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club.”

Despite the ‘legally binding assurances’ over separation, questions have been continued to be asked about Saudi Arabia.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put a further spotlight on Newcastle, with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich being sanctioned by the UK government.

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Eddie Howe has been quizzed by the press on issues in Saudi Arabia, and has largely been criticised for his response. This has angered a lot of Newcastle fans.

Now a Newcastle player has been asked about his feelings towards the club’s new ownership.

Emil Krafth wants to ‘focus on football’ amid Newcastle’s Saudi ownership question

Emil Krafth is currently on international duty with Sweden, and has spoke to Fotbollskanalen. He was asked about the issues surrounding the Newcastle United takeover.

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“I do not think it’s something that we, football players, focus on,” Krafth said, as reported by Sport Witness.

“We’re more there to play football. The second is over our heads. A lot of bad things happen in many places, just look at Ukraine and Qatar. As a player, you just try to think about what you are there to do.”

Krafth was then asked if the Newcastle players have been given any instructions on what they can say about the club’s new ownership. He said: “I guess they have not said anything to us. You can answer what you want. I try to focus on football.

“I do not think players focus on who owns clubs. We’re there to play football and do our thing.”

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Measured response from Krafth

While Krafth hasn’t scrutinised the Saudi regime, he hasn’t fully shied away either. But his stance is clear – he is a footballer. That’s similar to Howe’s response, who maintained he would only answer questions on footballing matters.

The 27-year-old pointed to the situation in Ukraine, as well as the human rights issues in Qatar, where this year’s World Cup is set to be held.

Krafth was then questioned about the World Cup, and said: “First and foremost, it is a matter for the Swedish government, which is trading with Qatar.”

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This response will resonate with a lot of Toon fans. Similarly, the United Kingdom trades with Saudi Arabia, but enough questions aren’t asked of our government. Eddie Howe was pressed more on the matter in recent weeks.

While Toon fans should not necessarily turn a blind eye, they did not ask for this situation. Mike Ashley sold the club to this consortium, and the Premier League approved it.

‘Support the team, not the regime’ has been a slogan used by Newcastle supporters in years gone by. However, the situation is more nuanced than ever.

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