Newcastle United's owners close to finalising big money move that could rival Manchester City
Newcastle United’s owners are reportedly backing a $30billion project which will see Saudi Arabia launch a new international airline.
Newcastle are 80-per-cent owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, who are backing the Gulf State’s plans to launch a new international airline to compete with the likes of Emirates and Etihad Airways.
Arabian Business reports that the details to launch the airline are being finalised and will be backed by PIF, whose sources claim that it will operate under the ‘RIA’ brand name.
The airline will operate from Riyadh and become Saudi Arabia’s second national flag carrier after SAUDIA, which operates from Jeddah.
Around $30billion (£26.07billion) is expected to be pumped into the new airline, which aims to operate over 150 routes globally and rival Emirates.
The airline is yet to appoint a CEO and is set to launch in Q4 later this year.
Confirmation of a new Saudi airline will only fuel speculation over a potential sponsor for Newcastle United next season.
Manchester City have enjoyed a lucrative commercial partnership with the Abu Dhabi state-owned Etihad Airways. Paris Saint-Germain are similarly sponsored by Qatar Airways while Emirates have a long history of football partnerships.
Newcastle have already agreed a sponsorship deal with Saudi-based online shopping platform Noon as the club’s sleeve sponsor.
But next season, The Magpies will be looking to secure a new main shirt sponsor having negotiated an early exit from their deal with FUN88.
Following the £300million takeover of Newcastle by PIF, PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media last October the Premier League temporarily banned clubs from agreeing owner-related sponsorship deals with 18 other Premier League clubs backing the ban, Newcastle objecting and Manchester City abstaining.
But that ban has since been lifted but regulations state that new sponsorship deals must represent ‘fair market value’ and any monetary payments to players and staff via owner-related entities must be properly disclosed.
Even with the regulations in place, sponsorship deals with Saudi Arabian companies could prove very lucrative to Newcastle and provide a big boost to their spending power in the transfer market as profits generated through commercial means are not subject to financial fair play regulations.