Newcastle director Amanda Staveley hopes to end ban on owner-related sponsorship

Newcastle director Amanda Staveley hopes a temporary ban on owner-related sponsorship deals will end in a fortnight and is “looking forward” to taking down the Sports Direct branding linked to unpopular former owner Mike Ashley.

Last month 18 Premier League clubs backed a move to temporarily block Newcastle doing any new deals linked to their Saudi Arabian ownership, something Staveley admitted had come as a “shock” and which had given the club “a big battering”.

Staveley is part of an eight-club Premier League working group looking at permanent regulations around related-party sponsorship deals, with the aim of ensuring any contracts agreed are at fair market value.

Such deals will need to be pre-approved by the Premier League, under plans agreed in principle by the clubs.

The working group is also understood to include representatives from the two Manchester clubs, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Burnley, Chelsea and Everton.

The group will report back to other Premier League clubs in a fortnight and Staveley hopes it will mark the point when the club can start to sign new deals, and bring down the Sports Direct signage which serves as a reminder of Ashley, who was deeply unpopular with fans.

“This moratorium was so difficult for us. We’ve really taken a big battering. And so I’m hoping that we’ll get this lifted as quickly as possible,” she said.

Sports Direct signage remains prominent at St James' Park
Sports Direct signage remains prominent at St James’ Park (Owen Humphreys/PA)

“And then the (Sports) Direct signage will come off. With Sports Direct, I’m looking forward to it coming down.

“It’s hard because Mike was very fair, he did a good deal. He was fair to me, I was a pain in the a*** to him for years.”

Staveley says time is of the essence to sign new commercial deals.

“We’re working on (the new rules) now, we hope the moratorium will end,” she said.

“We will have to take advice as to how long that process will go because it’s not in our control, it’s in the Premier League’s control but we will be seeking to do sponsorship deals as fast as possible.

“That does not stop us from working on them and getting ready for that time.

“The moratorium was a shock. We did not expect that to happen. How could you imagine that all commercial deals would be off?”

Asked what sort of reception she got from other club bosses at Thursday’s shareholders’ meeting, Staveley said: “I have a lot of friends at other clubs.

“And also I have a lot of respect for the Premier League. I think we’ve got the greatest league in the world and I believe in the collective power of that league.”

Eddie Howe
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe has been promised transfer funds by the club (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Staveley revealed prior to taking over at Newcastle, there had been interest from the Saudi Public Investment Fund in buying other European clubs.

“We talked to Inter Milan, AC, but the problem was the structure of the league was a mess. We looked briefly at Bordeaux. But we’re not looking at Inter (any more).”

Staveley, who revealed she was personally hoping to complete a deal to purchase the estate of Hollywood star Audrey Hepburn, had earlier told the club’s official website that new manager Eddie Howe will be handed significant funds to boost his Newcastle squad in the January transfer window.

“It’s not a window we would ordinarily want to invest in, because you probably don’t get the right deals, but that’s something that is important at the moment,” she said.