For the so-called richest club in the world, Newcastle United surprisingly flew under the radar for the majority of the 12 months they spent under Saudi Arabia ownership. There were no nefarious signings, no impatient dismissal of a manager and a clear lack of exaggeration from the club hierarchy.
The Gulf state’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and has estimated assets of around £500 billion, owns 80% of the club. Private equity firm Robin Brothers holds a 10% stake, and British businesswoman Amanda Staveley owns 10% for her role in brokering the deal.
But apart from A provocative decision and poor judgment this summer To adopt a third green and white group for Saudi Arabia – adding weight to claims that the club had more connections to the country than just financial support – it all unexpectedly made sense at St James’ Park.
That may fit with the owner group who, after witnessing their initial bid to buy the club in August 2020, was turned down by the Premier League due to concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record and accusations of TV piracy involving the league’s broadcast partners in the region, may have miscalculated the levels of scrutiny that The country will face it after the acquisition of a large English team.
The Premier League sought assurances that the Saudi regime would not directly control the club before sanctioning the takeover. But with Newcastle developing into a team capable of securing a tenth place, and possibly higher, under manager Eddie Howe, the spotlight is likely to turn on after a year in relative shadows.
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The new owners have made clear Newcastle’s ambition to challenge for major titles and return to the Champions League for the first time since 2003-2004, with Staveley saying at the Football Writers’ Association Awards in March: “We believe Newcastle can go to the top of the Premier League and top of the League.” heroes.”
Only when Newcastle get close to those goals will the owners, the money behind the club and the system that funds it, be an ongoing moot point.
But with Sunday’s visit to Manchester United, Newcastle kick off a series of matches before the World Cup closes that will tell us how close they are to becoming the club their owners want.
Ahead of the Premier League’s World Cup stoppage on November 13, Hao is set to face United, Tottenham and Chelsea – three clubs with ambitions in the Champions League this season and all still capable of defeating Newcastle to move goals, regardless of who they are. financial strength.
So far this season, Newcastle drew 3-3 with Manchester City and lost 2-1 to Liverpool, so they still have to score a big victory over the teams they aspire to beat. But there is no doubt Newcastle are making steady progress under Howe, who has bolstered the underdog squad they inherited with eight newcomers this summer at a cost of £215m, including the signing of Alexander Isaacs from Real Sociedad a record £58m.
If the Premier League starts on January 1 this year, Newcastle will be fifth – ahead of both Chelsea (6) and Man United (7) – and transforming from a club that was destined for relegation a year ago to one. Now, his place in the Europa League was a testament to Howe’s management talents, which earned him a new long-term contract in August.
But Newcastle need to kick and hit the teams they are about to face. For all their progress in recent months, Newcastle finished sixth after winning just three Premier League games this season: against Nottingham Forest, Fulham and Brentford. They have proven difficult to beat – only an injury-time goal at Anfield earned Liverpool a win on August 31 – they have lost only once and scored nine goals in their last two games, but they also draw too often (five of their nine matches so far) to be serious contenders for qualification. European.
The January transfer window will provide another opportunity to improve the squad and add more smart deals for Kieran Trippier, Bruno Guimarães and Isak. But if they can go into January having defeated one of the so-called Big Six and are still in contention for Europe, then Newcastle’s development will gain momentum.
With all the resources at their disposal and the prospect of increased sponsorship packages and a potential naming rights agreement for St James’s Park, Newcastle will be vying for better players, like Everton’s Anthony Gordon, with every passing window. For now, their main targets would still be to join heavyweight clubs in London, Manchester and Liverpool, so the challenge Howe must face is to deliver results that will make Newcastle a more attractive proposition sooner rather than later.
Newcastle and its owners cannot continue to fly under the radar, especially if they start making big gains.