Right, I’ve had a couple of days to bask in the glory of #AshleyOut. Sadly, I was actually unwell on takeover day, so I didn’t spend it quite as I had expected – which was naked, ten pints to the good, rolling down the Bigg Market in the middle of the afternoon. Rather, my #cans, were several mugs of Lemsip, but a comfort in the knowledge that the players of my football club will never again use wheelie bins for ice baths.

Anyway, I’m happy. I’m happy that I can support a notionally competitive or perhaps even successful Newcastle United again. There’s no point pretending otherwise. I love football. I love my club. I can’t wait to go to the Spurs game next week. I loved my club for a long time before Ashley ever turned up; and I’ll love it for a long time after he’s gone – unless I die at the Spurs game, which is eminently possible.

But let’s talk about something important: human rights. I have no obligation to say this. No Newcastle fan does. But I cannot, in good conscience, as a supposedly left-leaning, morally virtuous person, pretend that these issues don’t matter.

Saudi Arabia’s human rights record is disgusting. Whatever political or economic gymnastics have taken place to deem that the Public Investment Fund is somehow separate from the Saudi State, the reality is that this takeover cannot be rid of its sports-washing implications.

Supporting Newcastle is not tantamount to supporting Saudi Arabia, of course. These decisions were made in the domain of billionaires and super-states, beyond the control of any fan. The last 14 years have proven that fans have little to no say over the whims of Mike Ashley. He chose who he sold to. The Premier League approved it.

If fans mattered, the desperate pleas to have Ashley sanctioned or removed before now would have been listened to. Instead, Newcastle fans were told to be grateful for his ownership. In fact, the “big six” were quite happy for Ashley to asset-strip at Newcastle. It kept a sleeping giant in a coma.

I won’t stop supporting Newcastle. But I also won’t afford Saudi Arabia the soft power that this transaction aimed to achieve. Any Newcastle fans dressing up as MBS or putting Saudi flags in their social media profiles are not helping our situation.

It is possible to be happy with the conclusion of the Ashley era, while also appreciating the cost it has come at. I’m going to own my hypocrisy – insofar as users of Uber, Disney, Starbuck’s, CitiBank, and many more PIF investments do – and I’m going to live with that. It’s a uniquely Western privilege to be able to make that choice –a privilege that many citizens of Saudi Arabia simply do not have.

I do think in many contexts whataboutery is a flimsy line of argument. But nevertheless, I also think it is important to point out that the Newcastle United takeover is not a precedent. Football was fucked long before we ever got these owners.

Manchester City, Chelsea, Wolves, Sheffield United and many other clubs, all had links to terrible people. Yet for some reason there is a great degree of exceptionalism attached to Newcastle. I find that frustrating.

I will always support Newcastle. I will never pretend that Saudi Arabia doesn’t have a terrible human rights record. But the fact this takeover happened is a failure of the UK government, the Premier League, and Mike Ashley. The idea that my wearing a black and white shirt is somehow the cause for bombings in Yemen is absurd.

Should the PIF have been allowed to buy Newcastle? Probably not. Should the UK provide the same bombs that Saudi Arabia uses on Yemen? Definitely not. But on the spectrum of wrongness, let’s say Boris Johnson is more to blame than Barry from South Shields.

Even so, I don’t intend to absolve myself of responsibility. But I can only do what I can do – or choose not to do what I shouldn’t. Trivialising Saudi Arabia’s human rights transgressions with tea towels or swinging the Saudi flag in one hand and a pint in the other are crass, insensitive actions that belie the true values of this great club – of inclusivity and acceptance.

Newcastle is one of the most wonderful, progressive-thinking cities in the UK. So let’s enjoy some hopefully good football, but retain the perspective of the price that has been paid to provide it. Newcastle fans don’t need to feel guilty for what happens in Saudi Arabia, but they certainly don’t need to endorse it, even jokingly.

 Rohan Banerjee