Singapore markets closed
  • Straits Times Index

    3,166.27
    -55.25 (-1.72%)
     
  • Nikkei

    28,751.62
    -747.66 (-2.53%)
     
  • Hang Seng

    24,080.52
    -659.64 (-2.67%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,044.03
    -266.34 (-3.64%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    54,344.64
    -3,517.62 (-6.08%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,365.60
    -89.82 (-6.17%)
     
  • S&P 500

    4,594.62
    -106.84 (-2.27%)
     
  • Dow

    34,899.34
    -905.04 (-2.53%)
     
  • Nasdaq

    15,491.66
    -353.57 (-2.23%)
     
  • Gold

    1,785.50
    +1.20 (+0.07%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    68.15
    -10.24 (-13.06%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.4820
    -0.1630 (-9.91%)
     
  • FTSE Bursa Malaysia

    1,512.22
    -5.38 (-0.35%)
     
  • Jakarta Composite Index

    6,561.55
    -137.79 (-2.06%)
     
  • PSE Index

    7,278.44
    -90.83 (-1.23%)
     

Newcastle eye Saudi airline sponsor after Bin Salman's 'Vision 2030' hopes scuppered by Premier League clubs

·5-min read
Newcastle United's Saudi Arabian new chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan (C-L) and Newcastle United's English minority owner Amanda Staveley (C-R) react during the English Premier League match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, Britain, 17 October 2021. Newcastle United vs Tottenham Hotspur, United Kingdom.
Newcastle United's Saudi Arabian new chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan (C-L) and Newcastle United's English minority owner Amanda Staveley (C-R) react during the English Premier League match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, Britain, 17 October 2021. Newcastle United vs Tottenham Hotspur, United Kingdom.

A Saudi Arabian airline is one of the frontrunners to become Newcastle's new sponsor after a favoured option of having the Crown Prince's "Vision 2030" project emblazoned on shirts was scuppered.

Legally-binding assurances to the Premier League around no state involvement at the club and now a vote from rivals to clampdown on owner sponsors has made up the new owners' minds.

Prior to the initial takeover approach collapsing a year ago, discussions had taken place around giving significant prominence to Vision 2030, the Mohammed bin Salman-led plan to diversify Saudi's economy away from oil.

However, the prospect of advertising such an explicit connection to Saudi's controversial leadership had been fading even prior to a Premier League vote on Monday to temporarily ban owner-funded deals.

Now it is two other long-term options - the Saudia airline or potentially a Saudi-based new tour operator - that are being earmarked by insiders as the most likely next shirt and stadium brands.

There is confidence within Newcastle that bringing in a Saudi-based corporate sponsor will not be a long-term problem despite hostility from club rivals at a meeting this week.

Aston Villa and Crystal Palace are understood to have been among the clubs who spoke up in favour of voting through a temporary ban, with only Manchester City speaking out against.

City abstained in the vote, however, and the 18 clubs voted through measures that will leave Newcastle waiting for a new Premier League working group to come back with long-term options in the coming months.

New rules to stop club owners spending unlimited amounts of cash via sponsorship had been expected for some time, and were hastened by anger over the new regime at St James' Park.

The working group will come back with potential new checks and balances for clubs to vote on within months to ensure there is clarity by the start of next season.

At the emergency meeting of 20 clubs, Newcastle's incumbent managing director, Lee Charnley, is said to have argued the rule change was anti-competitive and potentially unlawful, but figures connected to the club declined to comment when asked by Telegraph Sport what legal options are now being considered.

Regardless of any appeal, there appears little to stop Newcastle from turning to a Saudi-based corporate such as Saudia, despite its clear state links.

City are also said to be unlikely to need to shed their stadium naming rights and kit sponsor partner Etihad Airways, despite the airline being owned by Abu Dhabi.

Instead, the working group has been tasked with creating a new set of rules to stop clubs using owner-backed firms to spend above market rates on sponsors.

Due to Newcastle's chronic underspending during the Mike Ashley era, the club already has £190 million-worth of wiggle room under financial fair play rules, in which clubs are allowed to make losses of £105m over a rolling three-year period.

Amid ongoing fallout from the Saudi regime, the BBC's director of sport, Barbara Slater, was forced to defend the corporation's coverage of the deal. Despite human rights concerns, Match of the Day pundit Alan Shearer has been among figures in the game to express support for the takeover.

John Nicolson, the SNP MP, was among members of the Digital Culture Media and Sport committee to criticise broadcasters and fans for overlooking abuses. "There were Newcastle United supporters who just did not care what Saudi Arabia's human rights abuse was," he said. "I am trying to imagine what it must be like to be Jamal Khashoggi's widow, when her husband has been chopped up and murdered on the instructions of the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and she sees numpties dancing around in cod Arabic headdresses outside Newcastle United. On a personal basis for her that must be heart-rending."

Premier League clubs ban owner-funded sponsors - what it means

By Tom Morgan

On Monday, Premier League clubs voted through a ban on owner-funded sponsors to scupper a potential new deal being lined up by the Saudi regime at Newcastle.

Only Newcastle and Man City - who are sponsored by an Abu Dhabi-owned airline - declined to vote through a new rule stopping such commercial arrangements.

Hostility among rivals to the Newcastle United takeover was underlined by the vote, but anger over the potential involvement of owners funnelling money into the club via sponsorship as part of an FFP loophole has been growing for years.

Since being bought by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour in 2008, City have amassed sponsorships from companies linked to the emirate with Etihad Airways having the naming rights to the stadium and appearing on team jerseys. City have insisted they are paying fair market value rather than inflated fees for sponsorship to provide revenue to allow the club to comply with financial regulations.

Premier League rivals were worried Newcastle would use friendly sponsorship deals with related parties to help it comply with financial fair play rules that are in place to prevent rich clubs from spending unchecked. Under league rules, clubs are allowed to make losses of £105 million ($144m) over a rolling three-year period.

It is unclear what the vote now means for City and its sponsors, but sources confirmed Newcastle are now immediately barred from bringing in any sponsorship linked to Saudi's Public Investment Fund. A league working group is working on new longer-term regulations.

Given the Newcastle owners had provided "legally-binding assurances" of no state interference at Newcastle, it remains to be seen whether the league would deem any company funded by the Saudi state as being associated to PIF.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting