Jürgen Klopp has said the Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Masters, should explain why the controversial takeover of Newcastle was allowed given Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights.
Premier League clubs called an emergency meeting to discuss the takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and the speed at which it was agreed. Amnesty International, which described Saudi Arabia’s human rights record as “atrocious”, has urged the MP Tracey Crouch to make owners’ and directors’ rules “human rights-compliant” in her review of football governance.
The Liverpool manager compared the Newcastle deal to the thwarted Super League attempt by 12 European clubs – including his own – and insisted Masters had a responsibility to break his silence on the takeover.
Klopp said: “I was waiting for some official statements about it from Richard Masters or someone. We all know there are obviously some concerns over human rights issues. That’s clear. We all think the same there. It [a statement] didn’t happen.
“What will it mean for football? A few months ago we had a massive argument – issue – the whole football world, with 12 clubs trying to build a Super League. Rightly so. It didn’t happen, but this is kind of creating a super team if you want. It’s pretty much the same; guaranteed spots in the Champions League in a few years time. Financial fair play nowadays, nobody knows exactly if it still exists or not.
“Newcastle fans will love it but for the rest of us it just means there is a new superpower in Newcastle. We cannot avoid that. Money cannot buy everything but over time they will have enough money to make a few wrong decisions, then make the right decisions, and then they will be where they want to be in the long term. Everybody knows that, and obviously the Premier League, Richard Masters, thought: ‘Yeah, let’s give it a go.’”
Referring to Abu Dhabi with Manchester City and Qatar with Paris Saint-German, he added: “As far as I know it’s the third club that is owned by a country. I’m not sure how many countries are still out there who have the financial power and interest to do so, but this is how it is, and what we have to deal with.”
Masters remained in Klopp’s sights when the manager was asked whether Saudi investment would cause further damage to the reputation of England’s top flight. “Don’t ask me about the reputation of the Premier League,” he responded.
“If you think there is damage to the reputation then write it. Without my saying, please. And if you do get in contact with Richard Masters send him my regards because I have never had contact with him. Never is not right, maybe once or twice, but he is the only person who could explain how it could happen. And in the end we will see what it will damage or not. It’s not really about me to say that – it is for other people.”
Amnesty has also requested a meeting with Masters over the takeover and, before the first game of the Saudi-led era against Tottenham on Sunday, repeated its call for the Newcastle deal to prompt a strengthening of ownership rules.
Klopp, meanwhile, has criticised the Football Association over its handling of Curtis Jones, who suffered an injury on England Under-21 duty and will miss Saturday’s visit to Watford. Klopp will also be without Jones’s fellow midfielder Fabinho, who is to quarantine after international duty with Brazil along with the goalkeeper Alisson, and Thiago Alcântara is again expected to be sidelined with a calf problem.
“Curtis Jones came back injured from the under-21s. Great,” said Klopp. “It is really difficult to get in proper contact even with the English federation because they do what they want. He didn’t train, wasn’t involved in the first game and then he played a few minutes in the second game against Andorra. Very important he played there. These are the situations we have to deal with and this is why we have these massive squads because we use players like machines. I’ve talked about it for six or seven years but no one is listening.”