Jurgen Klopp has called out Premier League CEO Richard Masters for allowing the creation of a “super club” after Newcastle United’s controversial takeover, comparing it to the doomed European Super League.
The long-awaited change of ownership at Newcastle was approved by the Premier League on October 7 after it received “legally binding assurances” the club would not be controlled by Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) took an 80 per cent stake in the club, ending Mike Ashley’s 14-year ownership, while Amanda Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners and the Reuben brothers’ RB Sports & Media each took on 10 per cent.
Ashley, an unpopular figure with Newcastle’s fanbase, had long been trying to sell the club and looked to have secured a suitable deal, reported to be worth £305million, in 2020, but it stalled when British businesswoman Staveley failed to gain Premier League approval.
Concerns over the separation between Saudi Arabia and its PIF has long been cited as an issue, yet a reported breakthrough last week in a piracy dispute between Saudi Arabia and beIN Sports, a Qatar-based Premier League broadcaster, was followed by rapid progress on the takeover front.
The Premier League has fielded significant criticism over its approval of the deal, particularly with regards to Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record, and while Klopp noted that, he also likened the takeover to the attempted establishment of the Super League due to the financial might – estimated at £320billion – of the PIF.
“I was actually waiting some official statement from Richard Marsters or someone else because of concerns on human rights issues, I think that’s all clear,” Klopp said when asked about the takeover in a news conference.
“I think we all think the same there. It [official comment from the Premier League] didn’t happen in the first place and still hasn’t, that’s the situation.
“What will it mean for football? A few months ago, we had a massive issue – the whole football world – with 12 clubs trying to build a Super League, and rightly so it didn’t happen.
“And this is sort of creating a ‘Super Team’. It’s the same: guaranteed spots in the Champions League – maybe not immediately, but in a few years’ time, these sorts of things.
“With how financial fair play is used now, no one knows if it still exists. Newcastle fans will love it of course but for the rest of us it just means there’s a new superpower.
“Money can’t buy everything, but over time they have enough money to make a few wrong decisions and to then make the right decisions to be where they want to be, so that’s how it is.
“That’s the situation, everyone knows, but the Premier League or Richard Masters thought, ‘Let’s give it a go’.
“I don’t know, but it’s not the first time – as far as I know it’s the third club owned by a country. I’m not sure how many more countries out there who have the financial power and interest to do so, but that’s how it is.”
Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi introduce themselves at the #NUFC training ground.
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) October 11, 2021
Nevertheless, Klopp insists he is not necessarily “concerned” about the takeover, adamant it will take more than just money to establish Newcastle among the elite.
“Much more important than money is good decisions,” he continued. “It’s always possible but it makes it much more difficult [without good decisions].
“I’m not concerned about that, just describing the situation. When we won the Champions League two years ago or whenever it was, there was already two countries in the competition with brilliant teams.
“Football is a wonderful game, you can still win games when the financial power of the opponent is much bigger than your own. Honestly, I’m really not concerned – you all know this, but you need our [football managers’] voice.
“It [success for Newcastle] won’t happen overnight and Newcastle isn’t safe in the league, it’s not 100 per cent sure they’ll stay in the league, so that would slow the progress a little, but we all know.
“There will be a lot of changes over the next years. It’s a massive project, but it’s football still, so of course you can still win football games against them.
“But in five, six, seven years’ time, Newcastle – if the ‘owners’ are patient enough – is a new super power, or old super power because they were successful in the past.
“And the new owners obviously have enough money to buy the whole league, so maybe they’ll fancy that at some point, and that’ll open up again the same chances for everybody. We’ll see.”
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