Newcastle United chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan lands new role as PIF make major announcement
Newcastle United majority owners the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund have made a major announcement.
PIF, who own 80% of Newcastle United, have recently announced the launch of a new Saudi Arabia national carrier airline named ‘Riyadh Air’. The airline is wholly owned by PIF and will operate with the Saudi capital Riyadh as its hub.
Newcastle chairman and PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan has been appointed as chairman of Riyadh Air with aviation and transport expert Tony Douglas named as chief executive officer.
Riyadh Air will compete with Saudia, Saudi Arabia's other national carrier who partnered with Newcastle for their warm-weather training camp in the country back in December.
PIF Riyadh Air statement
A press release announcing Riyadh Air read: “Riyadh Air will be a world-class airline, adopting the global best sustainability and safety standards across its advanced fleet of aircraft equipped with the latest cutting-edge technology. The airline is expected to add USD20 billion to non-oil GDP growth, and create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“As a wholly owned PIF subsidiary, the new national airline is set to benefit from PIF’s investment expertise and financial capabilities while expanding on the company’s operations to become a leading national carrier. The new national airline represents PIF’s latest investment in the sector, along with the recently announced King Salman International Airport masterplan.
“Riyadh Air aims to enhance customers’ journey while connecting them to over 100 destinations around the world by 2030; through offering an exceptional experience with an authentic, warm Saudi hospitality at its heart.
“The airline will provide tourists from around the world the opportunity to visit Saudi Arabia’s cultural and natural attractions.
“Riyadh Air will also serve as a catalyst for the Saudi National Transport and Logistics Strategy and the National Tourism Strategy by increasing air transport options, raising cargo capacity and, in turn, growing international passenger traffic.
“The establishment of Riyadh Air is part of PIF’s strategy to unlock the capabilities of promising sectors that can help drive the diversification of the local economy. It will enable a more financially resilient aviation ecosystem in Saudi Arabia, supporting the industry’s global competitiveness in line with Vision 2030.’”
What the launch of Riyadh Air could mean for Newcastle
PIF launching another ambitious project like Riyadh Air could bode well for Newcastle even if the two aren’t obviously linked. It will also fuel speculation over The Magpies' next main shirt sponsor.
Newcastle are looking to secure a new major sponsorship deal having negotiated an early exit from their contract with FUN88. An ideal way to promote a new company is to have it on the front of a club who play in the most watched football league in the world with the possibility of European football too.
Airlines have regularly entered lucrative sponsorship deals with football clubs. Manchester City have enjoyed a benefical commercial partnership with the Abu Dhabi st ate-owned Etihad Airways. Paris Saint-Germain are similarly sponsored by Qatar Airways while Emirates have a long history of football partnerships.
Despite Newcastle’s clear links to Riyadh Air, the rules temporarily banning Premier League clubs from agreeing owner-related sponsorship deals was lifted last year. This allows the club to agree new commercial deals with PIF subsidiaries providing they represent ‘fair market value'.