Premier League sides vote to block sponsorship deals linked with club owners

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Premier League clubs have acted to temporarily stop teams agreeing sponsorship deals linked to their owners following the Saudi-backed takeover of Newcastle.

The decision was taken at an emergency meeting on Monday amid concerns that Newcastle’s new owners could sign lucrative deals with Saudi state-owned companies.

A one-month ban on deals linked to club owners has been introduced to allow further debate on the issue.

Newcastle takeover
Newcastle fans have welcomed the change of ownership into Saudi Arabian hands (Tom Wilkinson/PA)

Newcastle voted against the ban and Manchester City abstained, with both questioning the legality of the process. The other 18 Premier League clubs supported the move.

The Premier League has declined to comment.

Saudi Arabia’s state sovereign wealth fund (Public Investment Fund) owns 80 per cent of Newcastle after the club’s reported £305million takeover was confirmed on October 7.

But there has been widespread criticism of the Middle East country’s poor human rights record.

Newcastle United takeover
Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman is listed as chair of PIF, who now own 80 per cent of Newcastle (Victoria Jones/PA)

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, is listed as chair of PIF, but the Premier League was satisfied the state would have no dealings with the club.

Premier League financial fair play rules allow clubs to make maximum losses of £105m over a rolling three-year period.

Artificially inflated commercial deals are seen as one way of increasing club revenues to allow them to navigate financial fair play rules and spend more than allowed.

Several major European clubs have sponsorship deals linked to their owners.

Manchester City v Liverpool – Premier League – Etihad Stadium
Abu Dhabi-backed Manchester City are sponsored by Etihad (Richard Sellers/PA)

Etihad, the airline of Abu Dhabi, sponsor Manchester City’s stadium, training complex and shirts.

City’s Abu Dhabi owners took control of the club in 2008 and have helped them become the dominant force in English football over the last decade.

A working party – comprising a cross-section of clubs – is to be set up to investigate what, if any, changes should be made to the striking of lucrative sponsorship deals.

Newcastle have been asked whether they would like to be on it.

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