THE takeover of Newcastle United will be welcomed by practically all supporters of the club. The slow, sad underachievement of the Ashley years can be put behind them as they look to be reborn as one of the wealthiest clubs in Europe.

But for neutrals, the deal leaves a bad taste. Saudi Arabia has one of the worst human rights’ records, treats women badly and its ruler was heavily implicated in the death in 2018 of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The takeover is an attempt by the country to “sportswash” its reputation clean.

Is it, though, for football to police international human rights?

The same investment fund buying Newcastle has also recently bought shares in Disney, Facebook, Starbucks and British Telecom; in July 2020, Liz Truss – our new Foreign Secretary – restarted arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition pursuing the never ending war in Yemen. Can there be one rule for all those businesses and another for a football club?

Football is already pretty murky: Manchester City have been bankrolled to three titles in four years by Arabic money, and Chelsea’s recent success is on the back of a Putin ally. Plus eight Premier League clubs have shirts plastered with the logos of betting companies.

Newcastle is a club competing within that murkiness. Why should it be any different?