Newcastle chief Amanda Staveley ‘sure’ Saudi club will play in Champions League

Newcastle United co-owner Amanda Staveley is convinced that the Champions League – Europe’s top-tier club competition – will soon feature at least one club from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Pro League has invested heavily in player recruitment over the past few transfer windows, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema among those currently in the Middle East.

Neymar, Sadio Mane and N’Golo Kante also headed to Saudi in moves that have seen them bank huge wages and bring star quality to the division. The nation’s wide-reaching global investment in sport led to the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) buying a controlling stake in Newcastle back in 2021.

Prominent businesswoman Staveley assisted in the takeover and she now holds a 10 per cent stake in the club, as well as a spot on the board of directors. Speaking at a recent Bloomberg summit, she made it clear that she expects a Saudi club to shake up the Champions League landscape sooner rather than later.

“I’m quite sure there will be a Saudi club in the Champions League,” said the 50-year-old. “I don’t know how long [it will take] but, knowing Saudi, I don’t think it’ll take too long.”

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has already discussed the potential impact of a booming Saudi Pro League, with many top stars deserting their European clubs and heading for the Middle East.

Despite Staveley’s hunch, Ceferin made it clear that he has no intention of bending the rules to accommodate Saudi sides. “I don’t believe that the best players at the pinnacle of their careers would go to Saudi Arabia,” he said last August.

Newcastle’s Saudi-backed squad appeared in this season’s Champions League after finishing fourth in the Premier League last campaign. The Magpies had not previously taken part in the group stages of the competition since 2002/03.

Despite notching a memorable 4-1 home win against Paris Saint-Germain this term, Newcastle finished bottom of Group F and failed to make it to the knockout rounds.

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