Newcastle United in Saudi Arabia diary: The next big commercial deal for club

Newcastle United’s players have been busy in Saudi Arabia.

Eddie Howe’s players, working towards the domestic restart later this month, have been training in 28-degree heat at Al Hilal’s training base ahead of Thursday’s friendly.

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Howe, we know, demands a lot from his players. United’s head coach wants them to train each day as they would play on a weekend. Intensity is their identity.

Away from the training pitch, the players have been relaxing at their plush hotel, but there’s been little downtime during daytime hours for the club’s commercial team, headed up by newly-appointed chief commercial officer Peter Silverstone.

They’ve been in and out for meetings with potential sponsors and prospective partners. Importantly, they’ve been well received in the country, where there’s a huge interest in Premier League football.

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Already, third-placed United have confirmed Saudi Telecom (STC) as the club’s “official digital tour partner”. Newcastle have also launched an Arabic language Twitter account, which already has more than 27,000 followers.

Silverstone has been attending meetings with chief executive Darren Eales, who was recruited in the summer from Atlanta United.

Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe speaks with Graeme Jones in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe speaks with Graeme Jones in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe speaks with Graeme Jones in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The club’s commercial revenues, which stagnated during Ashley’s 14 years as owner, have increased sharply due to a series of deals and partnerships negotiated since the takeover last year. One such partnership saw Saudia, Saudi Arabia’s flag carrier, take the squad to Riyadh.

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All eyes in Saudi Arabia have been on Eddie Howe and his players since the squad landed in the capital.

But the unseen work of Eales, Silverstone and others should ensure that the club, working within Profit and Sustainability rules, is able to strengthen further in the coming windows.

Eales and Silverstone are looking for a front-of-shirt sponsor for next season – and this deal will be the biggest yet by far.

Flight timing

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Newcastle’s squad is due to return to Tyneside on Saturday – just as England take on France in the World Cup.

And the hope is that the club’s English contingent that they can return in time to support the team – and their team-mates Callum Wilson, Kieran Trippier and Nick Pope.

The hope is that we don’t see them back at the club for a while yet.

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