Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has questioned the Premier League’s silence on human rights issues following the Saudi Arabian-backed takeover of Newcastle.
The Premier League approved the takeover after receiving “legally binding assurances” that the Saudi state would not control the club.
Instead the Public Investment Fund (PIF), which will provide 80 per cent of funds for the deal, is seen as separate to the state despite the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman, being listed as chairman.
Saudi Arabia has been accused of human rights abuses and women’s rights campaigners have been imprisoned and Amnesty International described the the takeover as a “bitter blow for human rights defenders”.
Klopp was expecting more leadership from Premier League chief executive Richard Masters on the subject.
“I actually was waiting for some official statements about it. Like from Richard Masters or somebody else,” he said.
“We all know there are obviously some concerns over human rights issues. That’s clear. We all think the same there.”
Aside from that, Klopp believes the money now available to Newcastle – PIF has assets of £250billion – makes them the league’s new “superpower”.
“What will it mean for football? A few months ago we had a massive argument, issue, the whole football world, with 12 clubs trying to build a Super League,” he added.
“Rightly so it didn’t happen but this is kind of creating a super team if you want. It’s pretty much the same; guaranteed spots in the Champions League in a few years’ time.
“Financial Fair Play nowadays, nobody knows exactly if it still exists or not.
“Newcastle fans will love it but for the rest of us it just means there is a new superpower in Newcastle. We cannot avoid that.
“Money cannot buy everything but over time they will have enough money to make a few wrong decisions, then make the right decisions, and then they will be where they want to be in the long term.
“Everybody knows that, and obviously the Premier League, Richard Masters, thought ‘Yeah, let’s give it a go’.
“In five, six, seven years’ time, if the owners are patient enough, Newcastle is a new superpower and they will have enough money to buy the whole league.”
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer agreed Newcastle’s takeover would shake up the Premier League.
Solskjaer said: “I didn’t think it was going to go through, but now it has and it is going to change the picture.
“It’s a fantastic football club with traditions, I enjoyed that spell when Newcastle were up there (challenging for the Premier League title).
“Short-term, it’s not going to change but, long-term, it’s going to be interesting to watch.”
With Steve Bruce widely expected to be relieved of his job as Newcastle manager in the near future, speculation has been rife that Rafael Benitez, who led the club for three years between 2016 and 2019, could return.
The Spaniard was publicly critical of former owner Mike Ashley but he insisted he is committed to his current role as Everton boss.
Speaking ahead of Sunday’s match against West Ham, Benitez said: “I can tell you that I have a lot of friends and they were asking me the same question. But from day one when I was talking with the board here, they didn’t need to worry about that because I decide to stay here.
“I’m really happy and it’s just trying to improve everything that I can here and focus. I’m wishing them all the best but this time when I decide to stay here I keep my word and I continue working here.”
🗣 DF: I can't ask for better owners. We're not jealous as a club. They lead the club with so much passion and the right values.
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) October 15, 2021
Norwich sit bottom of the Premier League table, but just two points below Newcastle ahead of the weekend’s games.
Head coach Daniel Farke, though, maintains the Norfolk club should not be envious about the extra financial muscle their rivals now possess to try to pull clear of the relegation battle.
“I cannot ask for better owners and we are also not jealous as a club,” the German said.
“They (Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones) have so much passion for the people and are concentrated on bringing the right values to the club.
“They are concentrated on the long-term process, and not just quickly spending an unbelievable amount of money to bring some success – which doesn’t work anyhow because you leave the club in a financial disaster.”