Newcastle United set out huge Saudi ambition with major partnership renewal

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Newcastle United will work with Saudia once again to grow the club’s reputation in the Middle Eastern country.

Newcastle United continues its mission to become 'the most popular Premier League club in Saudi Arabia' by renewing a partnership with airline company Saudia.

The football club worked with the Saudi Arabian national carrier last season with the first team flying between Newcastle International Airport and Riyadh for warm weather training and a match against Al-Hilal with the company. The Magpies confirmed the deal on Thursday with promise of 'exclusive offers and experiences' for fans of the North East club, as well as playing an active role in 'expanding' the route network - there are not currently any direct flights between Newcastle Airport and Saudi Arabia.

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Newcastle United’s chief commercial officer, Peter Silverstone, said: “This is a natural step in our growing relationship with Saudia and follows our hugely successful partnership in 2022. We were incredibly impressed with Saudia, both on board our flights to and from the Middle East, and in what we experienced as our teams activated our partnership during the 2022/23  Season. Saudia’s partnership activations were extremely well received by our growing local and global fanbase, with incredible digital results being achieved by both parties.

“Our ambition is to grow Newcastle United globally and to become the most popular Premier League club in Saudi Arabia and other territories around the world. Saudia will open up new markets for Newcastle United as we strengthen our connection with fans across the globe.

"We are very excited about the journey ahead. We relish the challenge  and opportunity to support Saudia as it looks to expand its route network, and reach new  audiences, through the huge global awareness Newcastle United can provide.”

Saudia also embraced the contract renewal as a chance to 'reach new audiences' and promote the Middle Eastern country to the UK population through the football club.

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Saudia’s Group Chief Marketing Officer, Khaled Tash said: “At SAUDIA we have always strived to create meaningful connections that transcend boundaries, and our partnership with Newcastle United aligns with this vision. We recognised in Newcastle United a club with a rich history, strong values and a passionate fanbase that resonates with our own principles.

“The opportunity to connect with Newcastle United’s fanbase is a source of great excitement.  The prospect of forging a bond with millions of fans and bringing them closer to our brand and values and to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is truly exciting. With our expanding route network and premier product we are keen to reach new audiences  showcasing Saudi Arabia to the UK population but also growing awareness of the multiple leisure and business travel destinations SAUDIA provides through its hyper-connected global network.”

 Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund completed a takeover of the club in 2021 (Image: Getty Images) Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund completed a takeover of the club in 2021 (Image: Getty Images)
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund completed a takeover of the club in 2021 (Image: Getty Images)

The deal is the latest link between Newcastle United and Saudi Arabia following the club's takeover in 2021. The club is majority-owned by the Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, who control 80% of Newcastle United after completing that high-profile purchase from Mike Ashley two years ago.

As well as taking part in warm weather camps and friendlies in Saudi Arabia, St James' Park has played host to the country's national team and is sponsored by Saudi entertainment company Sela.

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While the owners have invested heavily in talent on the pitch and elevated Newcastle United from Premier League relegation battles to the Champions League, the close links with the country have come under fire from some with accusations of sportswashing. Saudi Arabia has an atrocious human rights record with free speech restricted, the death penalty and torture prevalent, the rights of women restricted and the LGBTQ+ prosecuted under uncodified Islamic law.

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