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Newcastle takeover: Police investigate Crystal Palace fans’ banner criticising Saudi Arabian deal

Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, Premier League
The banner was displayed by Crystal Palace fans during the club’s 1-1 draw at home to Newcastle United on Saturday

Police are investigating a graphic banner displayed by Crystal Palace fans that targeted the Saudi Arabian-led takeover of Newcastle United.

The banner took aim at the Premier League’s ownership test, following Newcastle’s recent £305m sale.

It featured illustrations of a man dressed in traditional Arabic clothing alongside what appeared to be Premier League chief executive Richard Masters.

The banner had a checklist with alleged offences by the Saudi Arabia regime.

Listed on a picture of a clipboard under the headline ‘Premier League Owners Test’ were ‘Terrorism, beheading, civil rights abuses, murder, censorship and persecution’.

The man in Arab-style clothing was also holding a sword with blood on it.

Palace fan group Holmesdale Fanatics has taken credit for the banner – displayed during the 1-1 draw between the clubs on Saturday – on Twitter, and issued a statement.

“The Saudi led takeover of Newcastle has rightly received widespread condemnation and anger,” it said.

“To give the thumbs up to this deal at a time when the Premier League is promoting the women’s game and inclusive initiatives such as rainbow armbands, shows the total hypocrisy at play and demonstrates the league’s soulless agenda where profits trump all.”

The takeover was 80% financed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), whose chair is Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

When approving the takeover, the Premier League said it had received legal assurances from the new owners that the Saudi state would not control Newcastle United and there would be penalties if it was proved otherwise.

The fans group’s statement said this decision “made a mockery” of the ‘Owners and Directors’ test.

Croydon Metropolitan Police have released a statement on Twitter, which says: “On Saturday 23 October police received a report of an offensive banner displayed by Crystal Palace fans.

“Officers are assessing the information and carrying out enquiries. Any allegations of racist abuse will be taken very seriously.”

Proud and Palace, the club’s official lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender supporters group, also protested on Saturday, posting a video on their Twitter account.

Newcastle, Crystal Palace and the Premier League have all been approached for comment by BBC Sport. The Premier League declined to comment.

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