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The Premier League are looking to target Newcastle United with a new rule – but it will backfire

The Premier League are looking to target Newcastle United with a new rule – but it will backfire

Newcastle United are the clear target: on November 21, Premier League clubs will vote to fast-track a ban on loan moves between associated clubs in the January transfer window. 

If a ban is voted in favour (and that is expected to happen) it will be temporary in lieu of a longer-term solution. In reality, a ban should already be in place. Loaning players from associated clubs shouldn’t be allowed to happen for obvious reasons. 

A recent study by Play the Game outlined that Saudi Arabia’s investment in sport sheds light on ‘a myriad of conflicts of interest’. It says the country’s sporting investment endeavours pose a threat to the ‘market mechanisms of the international transfer market’ and could cause concerns about match-fixing. 

Newcastle United Co-Owner Amanda Staveley and Newcastle United Co-Owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi sit in the cinema seats at The Amazon 'We Are Newcastle United' Premiere at Tyneside Theatre on August 03, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England

Newcastle United’s owners are being stopped from using the Saudi Pro League to add loan signings (Image credit: Getty)

The latter term will send shivers through the Newcastle hierarchy given they have just lost £55m midfield signing Sandro Tonali for ten months following betting breaches.

Saudi Arabia have more than 300 sponsorships across all sport, but their 80% ownership of a Premier League club gets more focus than most. Do Newcastle United really need any more heat than they already get for their association with the Middle East?

In theory, the ban isn’t specifically aimed at Newcastle United, but at the same time… it’s aimed at Newcastle United. The fact Newcastle’s majority owners PIF also own 75% stakes in Saudi clubs Al Ahli, Al Ittihad, Al Hilal and Al Nassr has clearly sharpened the minds of the Premier League and their stakeholders. 

The other clubs are clearly worried about the integrity of the competition and Newcastle’s ever stronger foothold within it.


Newcastle signing Ruben Neves on loan in January from Al Hilal would be about as subtle as a mistimed Kai Havertz tackle. Unlike the tackle, there is no way such a deal wouldn’t be flagged red.

I hope the temporary ban is granted. Newcastle United can surely do without any more noise around their Saudi-ownership. Signing a player from a related-party would be an unwelcome distraction from the incredible work Eddie Howe is doing with a squad that currently has £287m of talent in the treatment room. As it stands Howe will be missing 11 players when he returns to his former club Bournemouth on Saturday evening.

In January, Newcastle would ideally sign a central defender, midfielder and a striker (at the very least) Neves would be the ideal replacement for Sando Tonali who is banned until August 2024, but the baggage with such a deal would only weigh a threadbare Newcastle down further. 

Sandro Tonali warms up ahead of Newcastle's Champions League clash against Borussia Dortmund in October 2023.

Sandro Tonali is out of contention for Newcastle (Image credit: Getty Images)

‘Not here to be popular, we’re here to compete’, claimed Eddie Howe in 2022 after a sickening 90+8 minute defeat away to Liverpool. Newcastle adopted that mantra and went 17 league games unbeaten following the Anfield game which Eddie Howe described as “painful.”

The vote will require at least a two-thirds majority (14 clubs) for the amended regulation to be adopted. In theory 11 clubs are part of multi-club ownership models, with Manchester United’s proposed new co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe also having a stake in Ligue 1’s Nice.

If the ban is voted through, it could signal a rethink into multi-club ownership. But it would do Newcastle a favour. It prevents them from making an awkward decision, but also gives Eddie Howe an opportunity to pin at least 14 club names to the Newcastle dressing room wall and motivate his players to embark on another lengthy unbeaten run.

Motivation money can’t buy.

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