The fiancee of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist who is said to have been murdered on orders allegedly given by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), has reportedly urged fans of the English football club Newcastle United to "unite to protect the club" from a potential takeover by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) which is headed by the prince.
The message came in an open letter in which Hatice Cengiz wrote: "You as the loyal fans do have a say in this."
"My plea to you [the fans] is to think whether accepting Mohammed bin Salman's offer is really the right way out of the despair for your club and city," she said.
The 34-year-old Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia is widely believed by Western intelligence agencies to have ordered Khashoggi's murder back in 2018 when he had gone to the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey to attend to some formalities pertaining to his impending marriage with Cengiz. However, the Saudi royal has blatantly denied the allegations.
Saudi Bid to Buy Newcastle United
The Saudi PIF which MBS heads, recently made a £300m bid and is set to acquire an 80 per cent stake in the Newcastle United Premier League football club, which has been owned by British billionaire Mike Ashley since 2007.
"I implore you all to unite to protect your beloved club and city from the Crown Prince and those around him," she wrote.
"They are making this move not to help you and not with your best interests in mind, but solely to serve themselves. Their hearts will not genuinely be in the club that means everything to you."
"I urge you to send this message loud and clear to the Premier League, to your club's management, to your city's leaders, and to the world.. We should not let the beautiful game of football be shamed by those who are not passionate for it, and who only seek to use it to hide their shocking deeds."
Jamal Khashoggi Murder
Jamal Khashoggi was a US-based Saudi columnist who had been living in self-exile in the US and worked for the Washington Post. He was allegedly murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018 soon after he entered the building to pick up some papers to marry Cengiz.
Investigators believe that as his fiancee waited outside, the 59-year-old journalist was murdered and then dismembered, with his remains never to be found.
After almost three weeks of denying any Saudi involvement in his death, Saudi officials finally said on October 19 that he had died in an "altercation" inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.
However, many intelligence agents, including UN Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, claimed that there was credible evidence to prove that there was an involvement of Salman and some other high-profile Saudi officials in the murder.
A Saudi court sentenced five Saudi officials to death and jailed three others for the murder in December last year, as Turkey charged 20 suspects separately.
Billionaire businessman Ashley who is also the CEO of the UK's largest sports goods retailer Fraser's Group (formerly Sports Direct International plc) had brought Newcastle United after paying around £135m (approx. $165m) back in 2007. He put the club up for grabs in 2017 and Saudi Arabia showed interest.
The proposed takeover has generated a lot of controversy ever since, with the Saudi government accused of facilitating the theft of Premier League commercial rights.
Amnesty International had also criticised the potential takeover deal because of the Arab kingdom's bad human rights record.
Saudi Arabia has also been accused of "sportswashing", a term used to describe the hosting of big sporting events, or owning of a major sports team as a means for a country to improve its international reputation, particularly if it has a poor human rights records. But Saudi Arabia has rebuffed these accusations, saying that it simply wants to get more of its people engaged in sport and nothing more.
Cengiz's Previous Plea to the Premier League
This isn't the first time Cengiz has spoken against the takeover of the iconic English football club by Saudi Arabia.
She had recently also written to the Premier League urging them to stop the takeover from happening saying that the move would "tarnish" the image of the Premier League and that it was against its charter.
She wrote a letter to the Premier League's chief executive Richard Masters, through her lawyer which read: "Ms Cengiz urges you and the board of the Premier League to take all necessary steps to prevent this takeover from happening.. It is undoubtedly the right, proper and lawful action for you and the Premier League to take especially in light of the ruthless killing of Ms Cengiz's fiance."
"There should be no place in the Premier League, and English football, for anyone involved in such abhorrent acts."
In his reply to Cengiz's letter, which was seen by the BBC, Masters said the Premier League was following "due processes required by UK law and by the Premier League's own rules, which go beyond those required by UK company law."
Masters also said he appreciates the "strength of feeling" from her and reiterated his condolences.
Following, Cengiz's appeals and criticism from rights activists, the Premier League was urged last month by one of its biggest overseas broadcaster partners to "fully interrogate" the intentions behind Saudi Arabia's proposal to takeover Newcastle United. Reportedly, the CEO of Qatari TV giant beIN Sports, has written a letter to the chairmen of top-tier football clubs regarding the deal.
Yousef al-Obaidly accused the Saudi government of the "facilitation of the near three-year theft of the Premier League's commercial rights - and in turn your club's commercial revenues - through its backing of the huge-scale beoutQ pirate service."