Soccer-Newcastle sign shirt sponsorship deal with Saudi firm

  • Football
  • Saturday, 10 Jun 2023

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Newcastle United v Leicester City - St James' Park, Newcastle, Britain - May 22, 2023 Newcastle United fans display flags inside the stadium before the match Action Images via Reuters/Lee Smith

(Reuters) - Newcastle United signed a multi-year shirt sponsorship deal on Friday with a Saudi Arabian company linked to the club's owners, an agreement which may be scrutinised under the Premier League's rules on associated party transactions.

British media reported Newcastle's deal with events company Sela was worth 25 million pounds ($31.42 million) annually. Sela will replace Chinese gambling firm Fun88 on the front of Newcastle's match day shirts.

Sela's website says it is owned by the country's sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund (PIF), which also holds an 80% stake in Newcastle.

Newcastle will play in the Champions League next season for the first time in 20 years after finishing fourth in the league in their first full season since the PIF-led takeover, which was rubber-stamped in October 2021.

Following the sale, the Premier League introduced a temporary ban on clubs striking sponsorship agreements with firms linked to their owners.

The ban was lifted two months later, but the league said such will be subject to scrutiny from an independent panel to ensure they reflect a "fair market value" and are not a means of distorting revenue to allow for greater spending under Financial Fair Play rules.

PIF is chaired by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and bankrolls LIV Golf, which stunned the sport this week by announcing an agreement to merge with the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour.

Earlier this week, PIF also took a majority ownership stake in four of the country's top soccer clubs, including those of Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

($1 = 0.7956 pounds)

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad; Editing by Michael Perry)

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