Newcastle hoping for lifting of ban to allow Saudi sponsors
LONDON (AP) — Newcastle’s new Saudi ownership is hoping to start signing up sponsorships from the kingdom this month by getting a ban on such deals lifted by fellow Premier League clubs.
A freeze on any clubs signing commercial deals with companies linked to their ownership was rushed through temporarily last month after the Saudi sovereign wealth fund bought Newcastle.
Premier League rivals were worried Newcastle will 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 cannot make losses exceeding 105 million pounds ($144 million) over a rolling three-year period.
New Newcastle director Amanda Staveley is now on the clubs’ panel tasked with formulating new regulations and is hoping the probation on deals linked to the ownership is “lifted as quickly as possible” by the league. The new regulations could see the league having to approve sponsorships to ensure they are at fair market value and not inflated.
“We’re working on (sponsorships) now,” Staveley said after a meeting of Premier League club executives. “We’re hoping that the moratorium will end. It is in the Premier League’s control but we will be seeking to do sponsorship deals as fast as possible. That does not stop us from working on them, getting ready for that time now.
“So it is really important. The moratorium was a shock. We did not expect that to happen. The fight on this moratorium was so difficult for us because all our revenues were so low.”
Staveley joined the club’s board after acquiring a 10% stake through PCP Capital Partners after helping to broker the takeover led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.
Newcastle’s jerseys are currently sponsored by a betting company, while the branding of former owner Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct retail firm is still emblazoned across the stadium.
“I’m looking forward to that coming down,” Staveley said. “It’s a slight frustration when I go into the stand and I try and take a picture which doesn’t have Sports Direct.”
PIF provided the league with legally binding guarantees that the kingdom does not own the club, while being unable to say publicly how that fits with the company board being headed by the Saudi crown prince and mostly featuring government ministers.
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