Newcastle United continue to make a noise under Saudi rule, two years on

The board have also agreed a multi-year partnership with, an online sports technology and betting platform, as well as a second multi-year partnership with a gambling firm BetMGM last month.

All will help Newcastle navigate their way through FFP rules and sources have indicated that the club will have far more room for manoeuvre in terms of transfer budgets in the summer of 2024 and winter of 2025.

Sportswashing concerns

These accusations will not go away, Amnesty International continues to criticise Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, but having been an international pariah following the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Istanbul back in 2018. Now, the Crown Prince is rapidly improving his standing on the global stage through diplomacy and economic muscle.

This is despite the fact that, in 2022, Saudi Arabia executed 196 people, the highest number of annual executions that Amnesty International has recorded in the country in the last 30 years. The war in Yemen also continues, while homosexuality remains illegal in the Kingdom. Internal dissent is ruthlessly clamped down and punished.

However, despite some tensions, Saudi Arabia remains a key strategic, economic and military ally of both the UK and USA governments. The Crown Prince has also been invited, by the British Government, to visit the UK later this year following a previous official state visit back in 2018.

The purchase of Newcastle United is just one strand of Saudi Arabia’s attempt to use sport to improve its international reputation and reach. Formula One and boxing have also taken huge sums of Saudi money, while LIV Golf, the rebel tour which once threatened the hegemony of the PGA and European tours has now been welcomed into the fold.

Bin Salman has shrugged off accusations of sportswashing, telling Fox News in a rare interview, last month: “If sport washing is going to increase my GDP by way of 1 per cent, then I will continue doing sport washing. I’m aiming for another 1.5 per cent. Call it whatever you want, we’re going to get that 1.5 per cent.”

No new training ground and stalled St James’ Park expansion


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