Following reports that Saudi Arabia is nearing a deal to purchase British football club Newcastle United, the fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has reportedly urged the Premier League (EPL) to stop the acquisition of Newcastle United by Saudi Arabia, citing allegations that the kingdom was involved in the murder of her fiancé in 2018.
She has also said that the completion of the deal would "tarnish" the image of English football and make it complicit in the "cover-up" of the journalist's murder by the kingdom, according to a Guardian report.
Hatice Cengiz sent a letter via her solicitors to the Premier League challenging whether the £300 million (approximately $374 million) takeover deal by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), was compatible with the Premier League charter, since the Saudi consortium close to purchasing Newcastle is controlled by the kingdom's de-facto ruler and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), who is alleged to have played a major role in Khashoggi's murder.
The Premier League's charter prohibits any club from being controlled by any individual or group who has engaged in any conduct that would be deemed an offence in the UK.
Cengiz has urged the English football's governing body to take the "right, proper and lawful action" to stop the takeover because of the alleged "cover-up" by Saudi Arabia around Khashoggi's death.
Khashoggi murder and alleged MBS involvement
Saudi-born Jamal Khashoggi was a US-based journalist working for the Washington Post and was allegedly murdered inside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on October 2, 2018 soon after he entered the consulate to pick up some documents pertaining to his impending marriage with Cengiz.
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. In December last year, five Saudi officials were sentenced to death for his murder.
However, the judgment has largely been criticized by rights organizations including Amnesty International which says it was just a "whitewash" to avoid implicating Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who is alleged by the CIA to have ordered the murder.
Ever since then, Khashoggi's former partner has been trying to intervene in a bid to draw the world's attention to allegations against the kingdom and its de-facto ruler.
Saudi Prince's attempt to repair his image
Cengiz's lawyer, Rodney Dixon QC, said: "The proposed acquisition is not just 'business' for the crown prince and the Saudi authorities, but an attempt to evade justice and international scrutiny for an unconscionable act."
"It would emasculate the Premier League's core principles and rules, and ruin its good reputation and character, to allow the crown prince and the Saudi authorities to use this acquisition to seek to repair their international standing."
Cengiz's letter addressed to Richard Masters, the chief executive of Premier League, says: "Ms Cengiz urges you and the board of the Premier League to take all necessary steps to prevent this takeover from happening."
In the letter, Cengiz's lawyer Dixon claimed there were "no limits" to the exploits of Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his government.
"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," the letter said.
"There should be no place in the Premier League, and English football, for anyone involved in such abhorrent acts."
Suggesting that the takeover deal would be against the principles of the esteemed English Premier League, the letter said: "It would be contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Premier League Chairmen's Charter and the Rules of the Premier League, and the fundamental and honourable principles upon which they are based."
Dixon also cited a report from the Guardian that suggested the UK authorities have been warned by intelligence agencies including the US CIA that Saudi Arabia had planned to target and surveil Cengiz in London days after the alleged killing of her finacé.
In a separate statement released on Tuesday, April 28, Cengiz said the deal by Saudi Arabia to buy Newcastle was a desperate attempt to save bin Salman's reputation.
"I trust the Premier League and British authorities value their own principles and reputation above this transparent attempt at sports-washing," she said.
Appeal to UK government
In an earlier statement posted on Twitter last week, Cengiz demanded that the Premier League intervene in the potential takeover to keep the Saudi Prince out of sports in the UK.
"UK authorities and the Premiere League (sic) should not allow someone like Mohammed bin Salman, who has yet to face any accountability for the murder of my late fiancé, Jamal Khashoggi, to be so involved in sports in the UK," she said in the statement.
"Doing otherwise will greatly stain the reputation of the Premiere League and the UK. Mohammed bin Salman is strategically using international sports to repair his badly damaged reputation after the murder of Jamal."
Saudi Arabia is yet to confirm its intention to buy the reported 80 percent majority stake in Newcastle United football club, but several media reports suggest the takeover will happen.
UK won't intervene
The UK government has suggested that it won't intervene in the controversial deal, reportedly owing to its close relationship with the kingdom.
Human rights organisation Amnesty has warned the Premier League it would risk becoming a "patsy" of it does not consider the Gulf kingdom's human rights records before approving the takeover deal.