Few matters symbolise more completely the new Middle East order and the lonely place now occupied by Palestinians than the takeover of Newcastle United football club by a consortium headed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund whose governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan will oversee Saudi Arabia’s 80 per cent ownership of a club, once emblematic of the working class roots of English soccer, but now the symbol of a game midway between a rich playboy’s toy and tax dodge.
While the Saudis will own 80 per cent of Newcastle United FC, they will not sit alone on the board. Half the remaining twenty per cent of the club has been bought by RB Sports & Media, which is part of Reuben Brothers, a British private equity and property firm owned by billionaire investors. One of the brothers, Jamie Reuben, will also sit on the board.
And who or what is the Reuben family? This article in the London Evening Standard sheds some interesting light on the journey to Tyneside by the Reuben brothers:
At 17, David joined a scrap metals business and began to trade, working nights while he finished college, while Simon started out in carpets, bought out England’s oldest carpet company from the receiver and made enough money from it to start investing in property.
When the brothers joined forces, their company Trans-World traded in non-ferrous metals, specialising in aluminium and tin out of London and copper and tin out of New York. By 1984, the company was worth in excess of $20 million. They then made the move into Russia just after the break-up of the Soviet Union, bought up half of Russia’s aluminium production and, eventually, emerged victorious from the ‘Wild East’ aluminium war of the 1990s. They had done business with Oleg Deripaska, the oligarch friend of Nat Rothschild and Peter Mandelson, but that relationship collapsed in a court case in 1995 in which the Reubens claimed damages of $300 million for lost profits.
The Reuben brothers were the offspring of Jewish-Iraqi parents who left the Middle East for India before making their way to London and to the fortunes acquired by their sons.
The point of all this is that not that long ago the idea that a Saudi government agency would form a business relationship with Jewish partners was not just unthinkable, it would likely have earned the Saudi members of the deal a date with Muhammad Saad al-Beshi. And who is he? Well, this article will give you an idea of the sort of activity he specialises in.
But that was then and this is now. With the future of oil a debatable matter, the Saudis are looking elsewhere, as are the other oil states in that part of the world, to invest their money before it is too late. The English premier league is the world’s leading soccer business model – a three-year renewal of its live and non-live domestic broadcast partnerships with Sky Sports, BT Sport, Amazon Prime Video and BBC Sport was recently sold for $7 billion. The Saudis clearly want a slice of that action, following as they are in other Arab footsteps.
When big profits beckon, especially when traditional sources of revenue become less certain, then political principles go by the by. And once regarded not just as unacceptable, having Jews as business partners becomes a necessity. This is one of the reasons why Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince was so warmly lauded by the West until he over reached and organised the grisly execution of Saudi dissident, Jamal Khashoggi (although stand by for a rehab job when sufficient time has elapsed).
Left holding the shitty end of the stick in all this are the Palestinians.
Anyone seeking an explanation for Israel’s growing aggression against Palestinians in both Gaza and Israel need look no further than his new business and political nexus.