Premier League clubs ban owner-funded sponsors scuppering potential Newcastle deal

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Newcastle United's Saudi Arabian new chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan (C-L) and Newcastle United's English minority owner Amanda Staveley (C-R) react during the English Premier League match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, Britain, 17 October 2021. Newcastle United vs Tottenham Hotspur, United Kingdom.

Newcastle United’s Saudi Arabian new chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan (C-L) and Newcastle United’s English minority owner Amanda Staveley (C-R) react during the English Premier League match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur, Britain, 17 October 2021. Newcastle United vs Tottenham Hotspur, United Kingdom.

Premier League clubs have voted through a ban on owner-funded sponsors to scupper a potential new deal being lined up by the Saudi regime at Newcastle.

Only Newcastle and Manchester City – who are sponsored by an Abu Dhabi-owned airline – declined to vote through a new rule stopping such commercial arrangements.

Hostility among rivals to the Newcastle United takeover was underlined by the vote, but anger over the potential involvement of owners funnelling money into the club via sponsorship as part of an FFP loophole has been growing for years.

At the emergency meeting of 20 clubs, Newcastle’s incumbent managing director Lee Charnley is said to have argued the rule change was anti-competitive and potentially unlawful.

However, the rule change was eventually waved through 18 votes from other executives in favour of the clampdown. It had been widely expected Newcastle would follow Manchester City’s path in taking on a lucrative new shirt sponsorship deal linked to their new billionaire owners.

Since being bought by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour in 2008, City has amassed sponsorships from companies linked to the emirate with Etihad Airways having the naming rights to the stadium and appearing on team jerseys. City has insisted they are paying fair market value rather than inflated fees for sponsorship to provide revenue to allow the club to comply with financial regulations.

Premier League rivals were worried Newcastle would use friendly sponsorship deals with related parties to help it comply with financial fair play rules that are in place to prevent rich clubs from spending unchecked. Under league rules, clubs are allowed to make losses of 105 million pounds ($144 million) over a rolling three-year period.

It is unclear what the vote now means for City and its sponsors, but sources confirmed Newcastle are now immediately barred from bringing in any sponsorship linked to Saudi’s Public Investment Fund. A league working group is working on new longer-term regulations.

Given the Newcastle owners had provided “legally-binding assurances” of no state interference at Newcastle, it remains to be seen whether the league would deem any company funded by the Saudi state as being associated to PIF.

A troubling day for Newcastle following their 3-2 defeat at home to Tottenham was compounded on Monday by an apparent argument between captain Jamaal Lascelles and team-mate Isaac Hayden.

The Daily Mail reported the pair had to be pulled apart by staff immediately in the tunnel area after the match, with some players later voicing their unhappiness with Steve Bruce’s tactics in the dressing-room.

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