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St. James’ Park to host Saudi Arabia games

Featured image credit: Rob Ridley

Newcastle United has announced that its St. James’ Park stadium will next month host two international friendly fixtures featuring the Saudi Arabia men’s national football team.

Saudi Arabia will take on Costa Rica on September 8 before facing South Korea on September 12. The two friendlies will form part of the team’s preparations for the 2023 Asian Cup, which is taking place in Qatar from January 12 to February 10, 2024.

Today’s (Wednesday’s) announcement from the English Premier League club furthers its Saudi ties. Newcastle’s ownership group, which comprises Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media, completed its takeover of the club in October 2021.

The consortium is led by the PIF, which is chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The governor of PIF, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, is also Newcastle’s chairman. The Premier League approved the takeover after receiving assurances from the new owners that the Saudi Arabian state would not be directly involved in running the club.

Newcastle’s synergies with Saudi Arabia have since grown. The club’s green and white away shirt for this season shares the same colours as the Saudi national team, as did its third kit for the 2022-23 campaign.

In June, Newcastle completed a new multi-year front-of-shirt sponsorship deal with PIF-owned event, retail and rights company Sela. Its sleeve sponsorship rights are held by Saudi digital e-commerce platform Noon.

Today’s announcement sees senior international football return to St. James’ Park for the first time since the stadium hosted six matches during London’s staging of the 2012 Olympic Games. Newcastle has priced tickets for September’s games at £5 (€5.83/$6.37) for adults and £3 for concessions.