An anti-sportswashing group said donations of Newcastle United tickets raised “serious questions” and called on MPs to donate the value of tickets they had been gifted to a human rights campaign.

It follows an investigation by The Northern Echo which found North East MPs had accepted more than £11,500 worth of sports tickets in gifts since 2023.

Conservative Party Chairman, Richard Holden, and Labour MPs Chi Onwurah and Ian Mearns had accepted gifts of tickets to Newcastle United tickets worth £1,000, £780, and £330 respectively.

Read our investigation here.

Newcastle United Fans Against Sportswashing (NUFCFAS) have called on Mr Holden, Ms Onwurah and Mr Mearns to donate the value of their tickets to the group’s current campaign in support of Salma al-Shehab, a mother imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

“The revelation that North East MPs have received freebie tickets to Newcastle United matches raises serious question marks over their pre-Saudi state takeover of the club commitments to hold the 80 per cent owners to account regarding human rights,” a spokesperson from the group told The Northern Echo.

NUFCFAS was set up in light of the takeover of Newcastle by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund which was completed in 2021. PIF own an 80 per cent stake in the Premier League club.

“NUFCFAS and Saudi human rights groups have repeatedly asked MPs in the North East and Newcastle councillors to take up specific cases of Saudi minors on death row and Saudi women like Salma al-Shehab, who is serving a sentence of 27 years for tweeting in favour of free speech.

“No MP has spoken out on the specific cases mentioned or taken them up with the Saudi owners, yet they can attend Newcastle for free.

“Now we find out some North East MPs are enjoying the direct or indirect largesse of the club. What happened to ‘holding the owners to account regarding human rights’?

“If they are serious about speaking up for human rights, the least MPs who have attended Newcastle United matches for free can do is donate the money they would have paid for the tickets to the #FREESALMA campaign to pay for posters and support the protest publicly on April 27.”

Speaking before Saudi Arabia’s international friendly matches held at St James’ Park in September 2023, Ms Onwurah said: “I will continue to support Newcastle United, and to raise the human rights abuses of the Saudi regimes by all means open to me.”

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In a post on X in 2022, Mr Holden said he would “always encourage” the progress of democratic rights in Saudi Arabia.

Retiring Gateshead MP, Ian Mearns, has previously criticised the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia by the UK.

The Northern Echo has contacted Mr Holden, Ms Onwurah and Mr Mearns for comment.