Assessing the Newcastle United project so far
Depending on how you define it, Newcastle United is the richest sports team/club/franchise on the planet.
Despite winking assurances from the Premier League that the Saudi government will not be involved in running the club, the majority of Newcastle are owned by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, which is headed by Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince. Saudi Arabia. According to the latest estimates, the PIF controls about $620 billion in assets.
According to Forbes, LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer is the richest American sports owner, with a net worth of around $80 billion. The NFL’s richest owner, Walmart heir Rob Walton, who led the Denver Broncos purchase last year, is worth an estimated $55 billion. Together, the two richest American sports owners are worth less than a quarter of Newcastle’s owners. In other words, the combined wealth of the 19 other Premier League ownership groups is around $200 billion.
Given Sheikh Mansour’s, shall we say, obscure source of Manchester City’s funding – Abu Dhabi has a sovereign wealth fund of around $800bn, although the club is not directly owned by the fund like Newcastle – a comparison to other Premier League clubs could not entirely accurate, but the point is that even the richest people or groups of the richest people don’t exist in the same universe of financial power as national government funding. The average person literally cannot understand what it means to have a billion dollars; the average billionaire cannot understand what it means to have a sovereign wealth fund.
Given all this – and given the relatively close relationship between spending and results in the Premier League – it’s no surprise that Newcastle have gone from relegation a year ago to the League Cup final and a real chance of Champions League qualification today. But the scariest thing for the rest of the league is that they haven’t even started spending money like the state-sponsored teams of yesteryear or Chelsea of the Roman Abramovich era. Newcastle’s most famous player is… Kieran Trippier? Their top scorer is Miguel Almiron.
So, ahead of the first cup final of the PIF era, let’s take a look at how they got here so quickly.