Newcastle United are looking for Saudi Arabian sponsors to speed up their Champions League journey and are considering naming rights for St James’ Park.
Chief Executive Darren Eales has revealed they will use the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia – the club’s majority owners – to “open doors” to trading partners in the Gulf country and beyond.
Rival Premier League clubs panicked over the Newcastle takeover last year and a temporary ban on related party sponsors was immediately put in place.
However, this was later rescinded, with the proviso that all deals involving companies affiliated with the owners must represent “fair market value”.
MailOnline announced on Wednesday that Peter Silverstone, formerly of Arsenal, will take up the newly created position of chief commercial officer and the club is exploring all options to increase revenue and push the boundaries of financial fair play.
When asked about the Saudi sponsorship, Eales said: “Absolutely. It would make sense in terms of some of the doors PIF could open. They invest in a number of countries around the world.
“I also think if you look at a country like Saudi Arabia with a young population – 36 million and counting – football is the No. 1 sport and there’s a certain natural affinity there in terms of the commercial value of one connection with Newcastle.”
He added: “The (Premier League) rules are for fair market value (not to prevent related party transactions).”
The prospect of a Saudi Arabia-linked sponsor of St James would only be met with the blessings of the fans, as Eales said: “If we think about anything to do with the stadium, we will speak to the fans because In the end it would be crazy to try and do something if all the supporters are against it. Bad deal. It doesn’t matter what income you get from it, it just doesn’t work.”
He has also insisted the owners don’t want to build a new stadium and will instead look to expand St James’.
“This is where we want to be,” he said. “We have to ask ourselves, ‘Can we still expand it?’ But they’re champagne problems, that’s the beauty of it. Hopefully it will be a puzzle that gets harder and harder because we want to grow the club, we want to grow the fan base.
He added: “Our vision is a stable top six club that consistently fights for trophies. We must find our way to get there through FFP and its challenges. We want to be fast. The property is keen to get there but it needs to be sustainable.
“If we want to get there as quickly as possible, we have to get every single transfer and every decision right. That’s the tricky thing compared to before (before FFP) where you could sign multiple players and if a few didn’t work out it wouldn’t be the end of the world. We can’t afford that.
“The reality is we’re not like Manchester City when they had the takeover. We don’t have a blank sheet of paper to just spend whatever you want on. There are regulations, so we have to be smart about getting from A to B.
“If the commercial team can bring in those extra deals – and I joke and laugh about that with Eddie (Howe) – we might have to go to Australia this year, but that means you can get the support you want back, or the central midfielder.
“The Premier League is the No. 1 league in the world in all sports. It’s just incredible, its reach. That’s a huge benefit when you’re talking to brands. Add to that the exciting journey we’re on with Newcastle – the history, the heritage and the passion of the fanbase – it really gives us some great opportunities.”