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Newcastle United's St James' Park to host Saudi Arabia national team games

Newcastle United's St James' Park to host Saudi Arabia national team games

Newcastle are set to host Saudi Arabia games.

Newcastle United’s St James’ Park is set to host the Saudi Arabia national team for two international friendlies.

The Magpies were the subject of a £305million takeover by Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) back in 2021, and have since propelled themselves from relegation favourites to the glitz of the Champions League.

Upon completion of the takeover, however, the Premier League said they had "received legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United Football Club."

However, some quarters have claimed the latest development is suggestive of a closer relationship between Newcastle and Saudi Arabia, a country with a sketchy human rights record, that had been claimed.

Indeed, Newcastle announced St James’ Park will host two international friendlies featuring the Saudi Arabia men’s national team in September. First, the outfit will take on Costa Rica on September 8 before going toe to toe with South Korea on September 12.

The club website wrote, to promote the games: “A football-obsessed nation, Saudi Arabia caught the world's attention at last year's FIFA World Cup by beating eventual winners Argentina 2-1 in an enthralling group stage match at Lusail Stadium in Qatar.”

The games on Tyneside will form part of the team’s preparations for the Asian Cup, which will be hosted by Qatar in January next year.

Last week Premier League chief executive Richard Masters claimed he took Newcastle owners’ claims that Saudi Arabia had no control over Newcastle “very seriously”.

Documents were submitted on behalf of the PIF to a U.S court earlier this year which described the fund as a "sovereign instrumentality of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia" while governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the chairman of Newcastle, was referred to as a "sitting minister of the Saudi government".

Masters, who has faced questions on the subject from the DCMS select committee, was quizzed once again about that issue at the Premier League launch day.

Speaking to TalkSPORT he said: "I'm going to repeat what I've probably said in the select committee which is I can't really comment on it.

“The question you're asking - is the Premier League looking at those documents and those comments?

"We don't normally comment at all on investigations until the point of charge and we're not at that stage yet so there's nothing I can really say about it. Obviously, we are fully aware of those documents."

He added: ​​ "We take those assurances very seriously so fans can be confident in that."

Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Football, Premier League, Newcastle United, Saudi Arabia