RAINBOW laces and captain’s armbands sure did look pretty as Saudi-funded Newcastle United stormed into the Premier League’s top four and turned the Big Six into the Big Seven.
A nation where homosexuality is illegal but a nation which has been allowed to buy one of England’s biggest football clubs.
All while the Premier League preaches inclusivity with colourful empty gestures.
With the Bigg Market now twinned with Chop Chop Square in downtown Riyadh, perhaps some of the Toon Army will venture out to Saudi Arabia to see their heroes this winter.
Never mind the Blaydon Races, they’ll be ganning along the Scotswood Road, to see the public beheadings.
Us snowflakes in the wokerati (although I’m not actually a tofu man myself) feel uncomfortable about barbaric regimes capable of dismembering journalists, but we might as well go and bark at the moon.
Because Newcastle fans don’t give a stuff and nor do the Premier League hierarchy, as they whistle along to ‘I Can Sing A Rainbow’, blissfully unaware of their own absurdity.
Trying to argue morals in the moral vacuum of England’s top flight is senseless.
Vladimir Putin’s mate, Roman Abramovich, started all this at Chelsea 20 years ago — not that we could call him Putin’s mate until this year because his lawyers were too expensive.
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And ever since such dangerous dodgepots arrived, this type of Saudi takeover was the obvious endgame.
It probably can’t get any worse than the Saudis, as the Taliban don’t have a pot to piddle in and probably couldn’t afford to buy a Premier League club even if they formed a consortium with Colombian drug barons, Somali pirates and Iranian Ayatollahs.
But let’s not entirely rule out that possibility.
It shouldn’t be mutually exclusive, though, to feel outrage about Newcastle’s ownership while admiring the work of Howe, and recruitment chief Dan Ashworth, and enjoying the increased competition at the top end of the table.
When Jurgen Klopp moaned about Liverpool’s inability to compete with clubs funded by nation states, he almost certainly wasn’t being xenophobic, as has been insinuated by Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City.
The Anfield boss was, though, speaking out of self-interest and panic.
Weirdly, mid-table Liverpool are the only team to beat Newcastle and the only team to beat City this season.
Ironically, Klopp’s team have barely managed to beat any Premier League club who aren’t owned by a nation state.
But Liverpool are scared of Newcastle. So too are Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United.
Next season three of those five clubs may miss out on Champions League football.
The season after next, when that competition is expanded and revamped, England may get a fifth team but, still, it is becoming an even stiffer task for any club owned by poor old-fashioned American billionaires to win any silverware.
It might not seem fair but neither was it fair on Newcastle to have an owner as joyless as Mike Ashley for more than a decade.
Now, Howe’s Newcastle are looking brilliant and they’ve only just begun.
They’re doing all this with Dan Burn at left-back — and just wait until they start signing ready-made world-class players. Howe’s Newcastle team might not finish in the top four this term — and if they did manage it, they would certainly be ahead of schedule.
But Sunday’s 2-1 win at Tottenham, a fourth victory in five games, was hugely symbolic — as an electrical storm raged and Spurs, along with the rest of the old guard, imagined themselves standing at the gates of Hell.
Ashworth’s recruitment has been astute and Howe has improved players immeasurably.
As Howe argued, in response to Klopp’s recent comments, there are financial fair play measures in place — the kind that might stop an incompetent Emir from breaking into the elite.
Klopp wouldn’t sound so defeatist if Newcastle were filthy rich and brainless.
But if you’re really good at what you do and you’re completely minted — like Newcastle — then those restrictions won’t keep you out for very long.
An invigorated Newcastle is good for English football. Theirs is a vibrant city, fanatical about its club, which had been in the doldrums for too long.
It is just a shame they couldn’t have achieved all this with a slightly less murderous ownership.
Still, at least there were ‘bespoke rainbow ball plinths’ at Premier League games, last weekend and next. So all together now: “Red and yellow and pink and green…”
QATAR is a nation with an abysmal human rights record, they won the right to stage the World Cup because of rampant Fifa corruption and thousands of migrant workers died building the venues.
But the last World Cup was held in Putin’s Russia and it was still a decent spectacle. Because Russia is big and it has hotels and infrastructure.
Many supporters weird enough to actually want to travel to Qatar will end up sleeping in containers in newly-built shanty towns.
Because Qatar isn’t big enough and it doesn’t have enough hotels and infrastructure. That’s going to be the biggest problem of all next month. Can’t wait.
ASTON VILLA were thrashed 3-0 at Fulham, then sacked Steven Gerrard, then stuffed Brentford 4-0.
So the natural conclusion was that Villa’s players had ‘downed tools’ on Gerrard.
And maybe, subconsciously, some of them did.
But after Gerrard had humiliated his popular skipper Tyrone Mings by stripping him of the captaincy and publicly criticising him, who could really blame them?
MASON MOUNT has been named ‘England’s most eligible bachelor’ by Tatler magazine.
I fear a new reality TV period costume drama coming on. Stamford Bridgerton, anyone?
LIVERPOOL keeper Alisson made a brilliant assist for Mo Salah against Manchester City this month and City’s Ederson did likewise against Brighton on Saturday.
Only one of these Brazilians can start at the World Cup, with Alisson No 1.
Maybe Ederson can feature as a deep-lying playmaker?
LEICESTER had just five shots on target in back-to-back wins over Leeds and Wolves, yet scored six goals.
Well done to boss Brendan Rodgers on reinventing himself and dragging the Foxes out of the relegation zone.
Even Tony Pulis was never as efficiently minimalist as this.
I TELL you what the heavyweight boxing division really needs — Tyson Fury battering a 38-year-old Derek Chisora for the third time, at a football stadium without a roof on a cold December night.
Said absolutely no one ever.