Newcastle fans warned over 'inappropriate' response to Saudi takeover

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Pictured here, a Newcastle United fan dresses in mock Arabic attire at a home game.
Newcastle United fans have been celebrating the club's Saudi-backed takeover by wearing mock Arabic attire. Pic: Getty

Newcastle United have pleaded with their supporters to stop wearing Arabic attire unless they would normally do so, following celebrations over the Saudi-backed takeover of the Premier League club.

Following news that manager Steve Bruce and the club have parted ways by mutual consent, the Magpies have also gone on the front foot with a message of cultural sensitivity to supporters.

The Magpies are concerned that some fans could be causing offence after many were spotted wearing mock Arab head coverings at their recent home match.

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Some fans wore traditional robes and others headdresses for Sunday's Premier League clash with Tottenham, which was the Magpies' first under their new owners.

The sale of the club to the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) essentially makes Newcastle the richest club in world football, with many fans overjoyed by the takeover despite opposition to Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

While the club conceded that no one in the new ownership group took issue to fans wearing traditional Arabic garbs to the ground, they are concerned that others might and have asked supporters to stop doing so.

A club statement said: "Newcastle United is kindly asking supporters to refrain from wearing traditional Arabic clothing or Middle East-inspired head coverings at matches if they would not ordinarily wear such attire."

The statement added: "A number of supporters have recently attended St James' Park wearing associated head coverings and robes, marking the takeover of the club by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media.

"No-one among the new ownership group was in any way offended by the attire of the fans who chose to celebrate in this way. It was a gesture that was acknowledged as positive and welcoming in its intent.

"However, there remains the possibility that dressing this way is culturally inappropriate and risks causing offence to others.

"All visitors to the club are, as always, encouraged to wear whatever is the norm for their own culture or religion, continuing to reflect the broad and rich multicultural communities and groups from which the club proudly draws its support."

Newcastle fan thanks staff for saving his life

The club's move was backed by anti-discrimination campaigners Kick It Out via a tweet which read: "We welcome this statement from @NUFC and would ask fans to show respect and cultural sensitivity when choosing what to wear on match days.

"We support the proactive steps taken by the club to ensure all fans feel welcome attending games at St James' Park."

Meanwhile the family of Alan George Smith, 80, who collapsed during Sunday's Premier League clash with Tottenham have thanked the medics who saved his life.

The Newcastle fan was taken ill during the first half of the game, which was suspended as emergency staff - some of them off duty and attending the match as supporters - rushed to the scene in the East Stand at St James' Park.

Seen here, Tottenham players Sergio Reguilon and Eric Dier get help for a fan who'd collapsed in the crowd.
Tottenham players Sergio Reguilon and Eric Dier were praised after their swift-thinking actions helped save the distressed fan. Pic: Getty/Sky Sports

Mr Smith was stabilised inside the stadium before being transferred by ambulance to the city's Royal Victoria Infirmary and later the Freeman Hospital, where he continues his recovery.

In a statement released through the club, son Paul said: "We are pleased to advise that Alan is making great progress, is now fully alert and is up and walking about. He will remain in hospital over the next few days while further tests are carried out."

Paul Smith's statement went on to thank all those connected in the medical emergency adding his father "is looking forward to getting back to St James' Park as soon as possible."

with AAP

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