Crystal Palace fans being investigated by police following banner opposing Newcastle's Saudi takeover

Crystal Palace fans in the stands hold up a banner criticising the new ownership of Newcastle United during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park.
Crystal Palace fans in the stands hold up a banner criticising the new ownership of Newcastle United during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park.

The Met are investigating the banner, held aloft by Palace supporters' group known as the Holmesdale Fanatics, during Newcastle's 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park

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A row has emerged over news that the Metropolitan Police have launched a racism probe into a Crystal Palace banner criticising the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle United.

Human rights activists are aghast that the Met are assessing the banner by Palace supporters, which highlights the Saudi state's human rights record.

A Newcastle United fan holds up the flag of Saudi Arabia during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park.
A Newcastle United fan holds up the flag of Saudi Arabia during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park.

The large banner claimed the Saudi regime, which is backing the takeover of the Magpies, is a perpetrator of murder, terrorism and beheadings.

The banner also criticised the Premier League's owners' and directors' test.

However the Met say they are investigating the banner, held aloft by Palace supporters' group, known as the Holmesdale Fanatics, during the Toon's one-all draw with the Eagles at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon.

Campaigners have voiced their frustration at the investigation, saying critics of the Saudi Arabian regime should not be viewed as racist.

A statement by the group responsible for the banner said:

Newcastle have asked fans celebrating the club's Saudi-backed takeover not to wear Arab-style clothing for matches in case it causes offence to others.
Newcastle have asked fans celebrating the club's Saudi-backed takeover not to wear Arab-style clothing for matches in case it causes offence to others.

'The Saudi led takeover of Newcastle has rightly received widespread condemnation and anger. It is clear the P.I.F is a front for the tyrannical ruling Saudi regime and by endorsing this, the Premier League has made a mockery of its own 'Owners and Directors' test.

'The Premier League has chosen money over morals and in green lighting this deal, has done business with one of the world's most bloody and repressive regimes.

'A country controlled by fear where women are second class citizens, same-sex partnerships banned, journalists silenced, imprisoned or killed and 'dissidents' brutally persecuted now has a foothold in our national game.

'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.

'Newcastle, as a team, is now being used to sportswash the blood from the hands of a corrupt governance and deluded supporters should consider that reality when singing of 'getting their club back'.

'We are lucky to live in a country where we can display a banner such as this without repercussion. Many in Saudi Arabia wish they were afforded those.'