In some methods, it appeared an abnormal matchday as Newcastle followers climbed the hill in direction of St James’ Park.
However the cowl of the matchday programme was possibly the primary clue. Midfielder Sean Longstaff was set on a background of pure gold.
Sunday’s Premier League match in opposition to Tottenham was the primary because the membership was purchased in a takeover backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Funding Fund (PIF) – a physique reported to be value in extra of £250bn. The deal makes Newcastle one of many richest golf equipment in world soccer.
The prospect of their fortunes being remodeled each on the steadiness sheet and the league desk have prompted celebrations from many followers.
The Premier League permitted the takeover after getting “legally binding assurances” that the Public Funding Fund’s possession wouldn’t imply the membership was being managed by the state of Saudi Arabia. That distinction didn’t cease some supporters draping themselves within the Saudi flag.
There have been criticisms of the deal, as Saudi Arabia has been accused of a bunch of human rights abuses. Western intelligence companies imagine the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the homicide of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 – which he denies. A van displaying Khashoggi’s face and that of the crown prince, who’s listed because the chair of PIF, circled the bottom earlier than kick-off.
Some away followers protested in opposition to Saudi Arabia’s hostility to LGBTQ+ rights. Homosexuality is outlawed within the nation and the Worldwide Lesbian, Homosexual, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Affiliation says the dying penalty is the legally prescribed punishment for same-sex sexual acts in Saudi Arabia.
The switch window is shut, however Newcastle’s new-found wealth has not stopped a bunch of gamers being linked with the membership already. One fan hoped for a extra spectacular workforce effort slightly than the arrival of any specific celebrity participant.
Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the membership’s new non-executive chairman and the governor of PIF, arrived on the floor effectively earlier than kick-off…
…and the followers’ flag group Wor Flags, who haven’t introduced banners to the bottom since Might 2019 in protest at how the membership was run by earlier proprietor Mike Ashley, have been additionally in place in loads of time.
Earlier than kick-off a banner was unveiled that includes the phrases of Geordie actor Jimmy Nail, hailing the resilience of town.
Al-Rumayyan and consortium figurehead Amanda Staveley have been launched to the gang and given a rapturous reception.
Nevertheless there was much less love for the outgoing proprietor, with Ashley’s face taped to a ball on the foot of a statue of the legendary Jackie Milburn.