LONDON: Club co-owner Amanda Staveley is certain Newcastle United will establish themselves at world football’s top table — but but they will do it at their own pace and not follow the blueprint of other clubs like Manchester City or Paris-Saint-Germain.
The Abu Dhabi-owned City are enjoying a period of relative dominance in English football, having won the Premier League title for the third time in four years last season. To deliver that success, much like Qatar’s PSG, the Citizens have outspent every other club in the division.
Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan is understood to have shelled out in the region of $2 million since taking over in September 2008.
And while cash guarantees success, mostly — and Newcastle United’s new majority owners, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, are not short of that — spending it loosely is not something the Magpies will do, according to Staveley.
Taking questions from Arab News and journalists on the subject at the Financial Times’ Business of Football Summit, Staveley said: “No. Quite rightly some clubs looked at the related-party issues. I think a lot of people thought we’d have Saudi Aramco, or a Saudi business all over the stadium and that has not happened.
“First of all, St James’ belongs to the fans and we will always remember that. We are custodians and we are privileged to be there,” she said. “We have the greatest fans so we want to make sure we do everything that is right for Newcastle. (The) PIF are incredibly aware of their position as custodians. They also want to make sure any sponsorship decisions taken in the future are done with due care and attention.”
“There are very strict related-party rules now,” said Staveley. “I was never concerned about them when we went in. We bought the club and the rules changed very quickly — but I was never going to do deals that were not fair market, we will run the club efficiently.”
“We are going to get the best deals the club needs.”
Co-owner Staveley also shone a light on what job title she has been carrying these last few months at Newcastle.
While, with husband Mehrdad Ghodoussi, they are club shareholders, they have also been assigned the role of co-interim chief executive. It’s a position that has seen the duo head up much of the club’s January recruitment drive, as well as the hunt for a more permanent successor.
When asked if the dual roles are sustainable, Staveley said: “I think my husband will probably divorce me if I say I want to carry on. We are really enjoying it, he is a great colleague and is really good at his job.
“We want to make sure we do a good job,” she said. “We also know we are not the right CEO material for Newcastle. And why? Because we haven’t got the experience of other CEOs.”
“We are shareholders and we want this club to be the greatest in the world.
We want to work on a daily basis with whoever joins us and we have had some amazing candidates we have spoken to. We are trying to find the best.
“Ultimately this club is owned by the fans and the majority shareholder is PIF. It hasn’t been me and Mehrdad working with the executive team at Newcastle — we are speaking with PIF 20 to 30 times a day. We are good friends and colleagues and they have made great decisions.”
Staveley revealed a decision on a new CEO is imminent.
When asked whether she wants to stick around, she said: “We hope so. We are shareholders and we want to be shareholders for 20 years, all of us.
“We want to see this club grow, we do not want to divest or anything like that.”
One potential issue that may arise in the current ownership model is that further investment from the cash-rich PIF or 10 percent shareholders RB Sports & Media, part of the Reuben Brothers’ empire, could see Staveley’s PCP Capital Partners left behind.
The Ripon-born businesswoman is under no illusions about what the future could hold.
“It might get diluted (the PCP shareholding) — but we will just have to see how this goes,” she admitted, when pushed on what may happen if further investment is needed.
“That’s why we have to spend wisely.”
One of the jewels of the Premier League crown, Chelsea, has this week been put up for sale by owner Roman Abramovich.
While the oligarch cuts his losses at Stamford Bridge, fearing sanctions due to his connections to Russian president Vladimir Putin in relation to the Ukraine invasion, Staveley does not look to West London with envious eyes.
Asked if she would have preferred to wait to buy the Champions League-winning Blues, Staveley said: “One great thing about taking four years to buy Newcastle was we had the great opportunity to look at every club, and that includes Chelsea.
“It is a wonderful club and I love working with all of my Chelsea colleagues on the Premier League board but there was only one club for us — and there will only ever be one club for us.
“And we like the challenge of trying to buy something at 20th in the league and trying to get it to the top.”