Why Dictators purchase football clubs?

Police are investigating a graphic banner displayed by Crystal Palace fans that targeted the Saudi Arabian-led takeover of Newcastle United.

The banner took aim at the Premier League's ownership test, following Newcastle's recent £305m sale. It featured illustrations of a man dressed in traditional Arabic clothing alongside what appeared to be Premier League chief executive Richard Masters.

It listed offences the regime is accused of by human rights groups - terrorism, beheading, civil rights abuses, murder, censorship and persecution - which were all ticked off on a clipboard under the heading "Premier League Owners Test".

The top-flight league's chief executive Richard Masters is also depicted giving a thumbs-up to a bag of cash, standing in a pool of blood.

It comes after the controversial go-ahead was given for a consortium led by Saudi Arabia's state sovereign wealth fund - known as the Public Investment Fund or PIF - to take control of Newcastle United in a £300 m deal, earlier this month.

Palace fan group Holmesdale Fanatics has taken credit for the banner - displayed during the 1-1 draw between the clubs on Saturday - on Twitter, and issued a statement.

"The Saudi led takeover of Newcastle has rightly received widespread condemnation and anger," it said.

"To give the thumbs up to this deal at a time when the Premier League is promoting inclusive initiatives, shows the total hypocrisy at play and demonstrates the league's soulless agenda where profits trump all."

The takeover was 80% financed by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), whose chair is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

When approving the takeover, the Premier League said it had received legal assurances from the new owners that the Saudi state would not control Newcastle United and there would be penalties if it was proved otherwise.

The fans group's statement said this decision "made a mockery" of the 'Owners and Directors' test.

Yet Newcastle United are not the only ones. Manchester City are enjoying huge success on the football pitch because of the takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group which is owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Royal Family and Minister of Presidential Affairs for the United Arab Emirates.

But it's not just British football clubs in France there is Paris Saint-Germain F.C which was purchased by Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, through the state-run shareholding organization Qatar Sports Investments.

So what is happening here? Have Rich middle east dictators realised they can clean up their global image through purchasing European football clubs? We look at these questions and much more on this edition of the simple question


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