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HomeSportFive things from new Newcastle United documentary

Five things from new Newcastle United documentary


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A documentary on Newcastle United’s 2022-23 Premier League campaign will start on Friday.The show called We Are Newcastle United, narrated by Magpies legend Alan Shearer, will be shown on Prime Video with a total of four episodes, one released each Friday.BBC Sport had a look at the first two episodes which went behind the scenes on Tyneside and in Saudi Arabia.Here are five things the show looked at.Their quick progressionNewcastle qualified for the Champions League a year after a relegation battleNewcastle were down near the bottom of the table when Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund completed their £305m takeover of Newcastle in October 2021.The owners, who took over from the hugely unpopular Mike Ashley, quickly sacked Steve Bruce and appointed Eddie Howe, with the club turning their fortunes around and staying up. In the following campaign and Howe’s first full season in charge – which is when this documentary is filmed – they finished in the top four of the Premier League to secure Champions League qualification for this coming season.Amanda Staveley, who owns 10% of the club, says in the show: “The fans haven’t had any success for such a long time. We weren’t expecting this so quickly. We’re definitely overachieving. “Last year the fan expectation was, if we don’t get relegated it’s fine, and now it’s right at the top. The business plan was never to get to Europe this season.”Defending claims of sportswashingOne of the main talking points since the Saudi Arabia PIF takeover has been sportswashing.The deal was delayed while the Premier League received assurances that the PIF was separate from the Saudi state itself – which they eventually signed off on.Newcastle chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan told the documentary: “Some journalists really don’t understand what PIF is.”Staveley also felt there was an ulterior motive from the complaints.”Because of the wealth of the PIF there was a lot of pushback from other clubs. There was a fear we’d have an unfair advantage,” she said.”The big issue was they said PIF was the Saudi state which is absolutely rubbish.”We had pushback from Amnesty International. Everyone wanted to talk about human rights and they didn’t want to talk about anything else. We worked really hard to address the concerns people had.”The show talked to several fans. One of them, called Pete, said: “I had reservations because the human rights issues are a very difficult subject. “But to be honest you don’t help change things in the world by cancelling them and blocking them out. I don’t see the point in boycotting them. Obviously I’m biased because it’s turned out to be a fantastic thing for Newcastle United.”Negotiating with Everton over Anthony GordonAnthony Gordon joined Newcastle late in the January transfer windowFinancial Fair Play rules were a common theme in the first two episodes with the club’s owners insisting they could not spend limitlessly.Their only major signing in January 2023 – as they tried to consolidate their squad for a Champions League push – was Anthony Gordon from Everton..The documentary showed some of the negotiations involved.Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth tells the club’s owners Gordon “meets a load of our criteria – good character references, he knows the Premier League, he can hit the ground running in the second half of the season”.Everton initially asked for £50m plus £10m in add-ons with co-owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi claiming clubs think “whatever the fair market value is, let’s add 20% to it because it’s Newcastle”.They have a bid rejected with five days left of the window and Staveley and Ghodoussi fly to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia to talk to the chairman about the transfer.Staveley says: “Anthony is going to be one of the best players in the league, he’s extraordinary and Eddie adores him. [But] we don’t have the ability to spend what we’d like to on players.”On the deal, she adds: “I know they’ve turned it down but I think they’re bluffing. We don’t want to lose the deal but give us the opportunity to just play hardball.”Eventually on 29 January the deal is done, with Newcastle paying an initial £40m, rising to £45m.At home with the playersThe documentary makers spent time at home with star midfielder Bruno GuimaraesThe show went to the family homes of Kieran Trippier and Bruno Guimaraes, their two game-changing signings in the first transfer window of the new owners.Trippier left Spanish champions Atletico Madrid after two and a half years to join the Magpies, who were in the bottom three at the time.The reasons were revealed on the documentary as his wife Charlotte said: “When we first moved to Madrid I was on my own for so long, I was so lonely. “About four months in I said to him I don’t know if I can stay here, I feel depressed, I have no family or friends, there was the language barrier. I was thinking about going back.”Trippier added: “It was a difficult choice. I was playing Champions League football for one of the biggest clubs in Europe. I got offered a new contract but family is more important than football for me. Family comes first.”Brazil midfielder Guimaraes, a huge success since his move from Lyon, revealed his love of sweet food.”I’m on a diet, I don’t like to drink but I have a problem with sweet things,” he said. “Chocolate is my weakness. It’s better I stop talking about chocolate.”His fiancee Ana revealed his favourite chocolate is a well-known egg with a toy in a yellow capsule inside.The search for a new sponsorThe club’s search for a new shirt sponsor, beginning in 2023-24, was discussed in a board meeting at Alnwick Castle.Peter Silverstone was appointed as the club’s chief commercial officer in October 2022 and said he had five months to find a new sponsor – a job that usually takes a year and a half. They approached 1,193 companies and had a meeting with 65 of them.The owners also discussed at length what the effect of FFP restrictions would mean for them.Ghodoussi said: “We want to be a Real Madrid, a Barcelona. To get ourselves to that point we need to spend money. You can’t just put money in. “It’s not like just write us a cheque for £200m. To spend money you need to earn money. You have to build the commercial revenue like sponsorship to be be able to spend on the club.”Staveley was furious with the Premier League changes in sponsorship rules.Two weeks after the takeover, 18 Premier League clubs voted to temporarily block teams agreeing lucrative sponsorship deals linked to the club’s owners.The rule was then relaxed to say the sponsors could be linked with the owners, but they could only pay a fair market price.”I was shocked we could buy a club, pay full price and then the rules just changed,” said Staveley. “That’s what [expletive] me off because we had so little revenue anyway. That if you’re just going to ban everything – we were 20th, we had nothing – I was angry.”Their search for a sponsor went to the wire because of the need to develop the next season’s kit.In the end they confirmed Saudi Arabian entertainment and hospitality company Sela as their new shirt sponsor on a multi-year deal.Silverstone said: “It’s about what it’s going to do for our fan growth in Saudi. I want us to be the most supported club in Saudi. Having a Saudi brand will grow that fanbase, which means more commercial revenue.”The first episode of We Are Newcastle United launches on Prime Video on 11 August, with new episodes weekly.

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