More criticism for Newcastle Saudi's deal

Newcastle fans' enthusiasm for the club's Saudi-led takeover has not been widely shared in soccer.
Newcastle fans' enthusiasm for the club's Saudi-led takeover has not been widely shared in soccer.

Newcastle United begin their new era under Saudi ownership when they face Tottenham Hotspur at St James' Park with Steve Bruce set for his 1000th game as a manager and possibly his last with the North East club.

Last week, to the delight of their fans, Newcastle was sold to a consortium dominated by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) alongside minority partners PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media.

Human rights groups such as Amnesty International have condemned the Saudi takeover, and the criticism continued on Thursday from as far afield as the German Bundesliga as Freiburg manager Christian Streich slammed the deal.

"There are always things happening in football that have exceeded all limits. In this case it is unbelievable who is part of this consortium," Streich said.

He said it was known that it includes people who are "involved in serious human rights violations", adding: "I have to say that if people have a problem with that, then I can count myself among those people."

Newcastle supporters, though, are delighted to see former owner Mike Ashley sell his stake in the club and have relished the promises of "heavy" investment in new players.

Many fans would also like to see the back of Bruce, who despite hailing from the region and managing to keep the club in the top flight, has been unpopular with supporters.

Media reports and bookmakers are already speculating on his successor, but after a meeting with the new board, Bruce remains in his position.

Sunday's game is likely to see further celebrations from Newcastle fans, but could be an awkward occasion for Bruce, if he remains in charge of the team who lie next to bottom of the Premier League.

Newcastle's goal is to break into the elite of English football, a status Tottenham have enjoyed in recent seasons but are struggling to maintain.

Spurs appeared to be cementing themselves in the top echelon after four straight seasons of top-four finishes, including in 2019 when they reached the Champions League final.

But the past two seasons have seen the club end sixth and then seventh and a mixed start under new manager Nuno Espirito Santo has left Spurs in eighth going into Sunday's game.

Chelsea are the early leaders after seven games but face a tricky test on Saturday at promoted Brentford, who have impressed with wins over Arsenal and West Ham United and a draw with Liverpool.

Manchester United begin a series of tricky games, after the disappointment of a defeat to Aston Villa and a draw with Everton, with a visit to Leicester City on Saturday.

Liverpool kick off the weekend at Watford on Saturday lunchtime while Manchester City will expect three points at home to winless Burnley.

Monday's match will see former Arsenal great Patrick Vieira revisiting his old club at the Emirates Stadium for the first time since he took over at Premier League rivals Crystal Palace.

The Frenchman captained Arsenal to three league titles and four FA Cup triumphs as a player, famously leading the 'Invincibles' who went a full Premier League campaign unbeaten in 2003-04 before he ended his nine-year spell with the club the following year.

"He's an Arsenal legend and I hope he gets the reception he deserves for what he did as a player and a person," Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta said on Thursday.

Australian Associated Press