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St. James’ Park to host Saudi Arabia’s next two international friendlies

The Magpies will give way to the Saudis

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Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Newcastle United’s stadium St. James’ Park is set to host Saudi Arabia’s forthcoming international friendlies according to a report written by Ali Rampling of The Athletic.

The Saudi national team is scheduled to take on Costa Rica on September 8 and South Korea on September 12 and they will be doing so in Newcastle and using the home of the Magpies in an effort to strengthen the relationship between the country and the PIF-owned club.

These friendly matches symbolize the latest collaboration between Newcastle United and Saudi Arabia since the takeover of the club finally was completed in October 2021.

Newcastle have been far from hiding any sort of connection, starting with trips to the Middle Eastern side of the globe, donning green-and-white threads last season and this year, participating in friendly tournaments linked to Saudi Arabia there and in England, and signing sponsorship deals with Saudi companies such as Sela.

When the Newcastle takeover was officially ratified in 2021, assurances were provided to the Premier League that there was no formal link between the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the Saudi state, although that’s not quite the case and there are always going to be ties between the club and the Arab state.

These upcoming friendly encounters constitute a vital facet of Saudi Arabia’s preparations for the impending AFC Asian Cup, scheduled to transpire in Qatar in Jan. 2024.

Saudi Arabia earned a bit of a nice reputation last winter when they defeated eventual champions Argentina 2-1 in their 2022 World Cup opener, though the country is not renowned for its soccer prowess on an international stage.

However, the Saudi Pro League has made the football rounds of late after their financial boost allowed multiple teams to land superstars from all across the world including Cristiano Ronaldo last winter and Neymar this summer, among many others including a good bunch of former Premier League stars such as Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson.