'About as concerning as it gets' - Garth Crooks delivers verdict on Newcastle United takeover controversy
BBC pundit Garth Crooks has suggested that the conversation surrounding Newcastle United’s new owners is “about as concerning as it gets”.
The Magpies were recently bought out by a consortium backed in large part by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, and the deal has drawn criticism from the likes of Human Rights charity Amnesty International.
But while Crooks has admitted that any lingering controversy surrounding the takeover is a matter of worry, he has also argued that the onus should not be placed on supporters or players to act as a moral compass.
Writing in a column for BBC Sport, he said: “I said last week in this column that Steve Bruce was nothing more than a 'caretaker' manager and so it proved. In only a matter of days the manager of Newcastle United had become their former manager having just celebrated his 1,000th game in league management.
“It would appear that the new owners from Saudi Arabia had done the right thing by sacking Bruce and not prolonged the inevitable.
“I might have applauded their decision to relieve Bruce of his duties if the country from which the owners came actually had a human rights record or, at least, one they could be proud of - but they don't - so I won't.
“Newcastle may have rid themselves of one problem by wrestling themselves free from Mike Ashley but they have now saddled themselves with a greater problem of being guilty by association.
“Amnesty International's insistence that the human rights campaign group meet with the Premier League, to have their concerns about Saudi Arabia's involvement with the most prestigious league in the world satisfied, is about as concerning as it gets.
“The question is however, should Newcastle United be held to a higher moral standard than others who do business with that part of the world?
“I have always had a problem with people who, for some reason, expect footballers to behave better than ordinary members of the public for no other reason than they are professional footballers.
“The game and its participants provide a level of entertainment that is unsurpassed and we should leave it like that. To expect anything else from the game is unrealistic, unfair and unreasonable.
“Our leaders and elected officials are the ones charged with setting our moral compass not football.”