I sincerely hope this article will be out of date as soon as possible. Because as soon as a decision is (finally) made on the proposed Newcastle United takeover this will all be academic. But while things are still up in the air, I think it bears looking at:

One of the many things which has puzzled me about this whole long drawn-out affair is why MPs from the Scottish National Party are so involved with the takeover and so apparently keen to prevent it.

It started with Angus MacNeil, an interesting character in many ways, calling for the takeover to be blocked, arguing that if it went through it would mean “a free pass on being thieves”, alluding to the controversy over BeOutQ, BeIN Sports and the showing of Premier League games.

The fact that his complaint was based not on the actual World Trade Organisation (WTO) report but seemingly on a selectively assembled letter originating from Qatar somewhat detracted from his demand.

Next to weigh in was fellow SNP MP John Nicholson who quizzed Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters at a hearing of the Culture and Sport Select Committee about the takeover.

Nicholson claimed it would be “humiliating” if Masters and the Premier League allowed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman to pass the owners and directors test in the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and said Saudi were “up to their necks” in piracy.

Nicholson clearly takes a highly moral stance to business dealings with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Or does he?

Well, Scottish Development International – Scotland’s trade and inward investment agency – is so appalled at the Saudi regime that it… has an office in Saudi Arabia as part of the British Embassy where it actively looks to get investment into Scotland.

Scottish fish farmers are also looking to Saudi Arabia as a huge potential new market as a direct result of the new policies being brought in by the man Mr Nicholson affects to despise.

Mohammed bin Salman has included healthy living in his plan to transform Saudi society and the economy, looking to change Saudis’ dietary habits and getting them to eat more fish.

As Bloomberg reports, this has the potential to become a huge export market for Scottish salmon farmers who are already negotiating with the Saudi government to become preferred suppliers.

The US defence company Raytheon is one of the biggest employers at Glenrothes in Fife. Amongst other things, Raytheon makes the electronics systems for precision-guided bombs and the Saudi government is a key customer for such things, especially since the Saudi air force started operations in the Yemen in 2015.

Fair enough you might say – politicians cannot control what everything companies in their jurisdiction get up to.
However, the Scottish Government – currently run by Mr Nicholson’s colleagues in the SNP – not only doesn’t get involved in blocking such trade, it actually encourages it.

As the Sunday Mail points out, Raytheon has received tax payers’ money in the form of Scottish Enterprise grants and the firm has been allowed to draft lessons for Scottish pupils.

My point is not to decry efforts by politicians in Scotland to secure and support investment by Saudi Arabia in their country. That’s their call.

My point is to question their hypocrisy and also ask why they are interested in an English football club and what makes NUFC so different to other investments?

If the difference is that NUFC is a community asset then surely it should be the community in which the asset is located who should be consulted on whether or not they want their club to be invested in? Otherwise it is a straightforward investment just like many others the Saudis make.

It seems to me that NUFC’s status as a business can be switched on and off when it suits people’s arguments.
When Ashley is taking us for a ride by selling off NUFC assets like the land at Strawberry Place or making the NUFC store part of Sports Direct or sticking up Sports Direct signs all round SJP for a pittance, he’s allowed to do that “because he’s running the club like a business”.

But when someone comes along who wants to buy NUFC, then the club magically becomes something more than just a business – even though the process of checking out prospective new owners doesn’t involved the fans or the community in any way, shape or form.

I’m not a cheerleader for the Saudi regime. Some of their reported actions appal me and their attitude to women and to human rights leaves an awful lot to be desired. I desperately want Ashley out, but as for the Saudi-led consortium’s plans for the club, who knows what they are, outside of the Premier League? No-one – and certainly not the fans.

However, it strikes me that this whole affair is riddled with hypocrisy and leaves fans rightly questioning what the hell is going on.

As usual, we will be the last to know.

Howard Walker