Newcastle’s Saudi owners want to become the new “Barcelona or Real Madrid ” as they transform it into a £3bn club.

The ambition to revolutionise the Tyneside club is revealed in a new behind the scenes documentary by Prime Video released on Friday. Newcastle, 80pc owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, plus 10pc by Amanda Staveley and the Reuben family, has rattled the Premier League elite in the last 18 months, after their controversial £305m takeover.

Prime Video got boardroom and dressing room access to film Staveley negotiating the transfer of Anthony Gordon, giving players’ pep talks after wins and telling Eddie Howe’s squad they were “on fire.” She reveals she was left “pissed off” by top flight rivals changing sponsorship rules.

Husband and business partner Mehrdad Ghodoussi claims rivals are hiking transfer fees saying: “The problem we have is that everyone thinks what is fair market value and adds 20pc to sell it to Newcastle. And Staveley defends the takeover which was criticised by Amnesty international who claim it is sportswashing amid human rights concerns in Saudi.

Staveley said Newcastle had “pushback” from rival clubs. “There was a fear we would have an unfair advantage. The big issue was saying PIF was the Saudi state, which is absolute rubbish.”

Staveley added: “(There was) Pushback from Amnesty international. Everyone just wanted to discuss human rights and didn’t want to discuss anything else.”

Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan says they bought Newcastle for the “potential” adding: “The fans, the history and the heritage. The pride. But there is also the potential. My ambition like any other fan is to be No1. That is the ambition.”

Asked about the risk of appointing Eddie Howe who was relegated in his previous job with Bournemouth, chairman Rumayan says: “That is even better right? He knows what not to do!” _The Mirror _ has seen a preview of the first two episodes, and here are the key takeaways:

Eddie Howe was made to eat his words after a fired up team talk Eddie Howe inspired Newcastle with a fiesty team talk following Erik ten Hag’s comments (


Getty Images)

1. Howe’s blistering dressing room speech

Eddie Howe was filmed in the Newcastle dressing room speaking to his players. Saying “I don’t usually do this” Howe quotes Manchester United boss Erik Ten Hag’s pre match press conference at the end of March, when he said Newcastle are an “annoying team to play against” because they delay the game.

Howe uses it to inspire: “If they want a quick game, let’s fing give it to them. Let’s fing blow them away with our running. Let’s go…”

In one team talk, Howe says: “255 days of effort, commitment. All the positive things we have given this season. That is a lot of effort. We don’t want to waste that time. That is history. This is the future. There are 77 days left, 14 games. 14 games for us to maximise every moment of this season doesn’t go to waste. What is our attitude and commitment going to be for 77 days.”

Newcastle finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League, which CEO Darren Eales says is worth “£45m to the bottom line.”

2. Owners want to become “a Barcelona or Real Madrid….”

Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan wears a black and white striped lining in his suit, as he insists the club wants to be No1… and denies running it day to day. He wants to increase the £305m value of Newcastle “tenfold”, the film claims, as part of PIF’s aim to be worth $2trillion.

Al-Rumayyan invited the entire Toon staff to his home in Riyadh last December and told them: “What we are achieving is a case study. People are asking: what are Newcastle doing? This is just the start. It is going to be a good thing for all of us.

Narrator and club legend Alan Shearer says Newcastle have the “richest owners in football.” Ghodoussi said: “We want to be a Real Madrid, a Barcelona, to get ourselves to that point we need to spend money.”

3. Guimaraes’ chocolate egg addiction!

Bruno Guimaraes has been a revelation on Tyneside Bruno Guimaraes has been a revelation on Tyneside (


Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

The Brazil play-maker is one of the stars of the film, his infectious, happy personality shining through. But he has a vice.

Alongside wife Anna and son Matteo Bruno wants to unburden himself of a secret passion. He says: “I am on a diet.” “He likes to eat!… a lot,” says Anna.

“I don’t like to drink but I have a problem with sweet things. Chocolate. It is my weakness,” says Bruno. Anna: “It is like Kinder… the egg!” Bruno ads: “Kinder… oh my god. It is better to stop speaking about chocolate!”

Bruno concludes that joining Newcastle was “the best decision in my life”, and jokes about his dad, Dick, becoming a star around Newcastle. “The last game he took 100 photos! Really. The people kiss him, hug him, Bronu’s dad, he is so famous! We can feel the love. Now the new owners are here, we can be one of the giants…”‌

4. Trippier problem that led to transfer

Kieran Trippier has been excellent for Newcastle since his arrival Kieran Trippier has been excellent for Newcastle since his arrival (


Getty Images)

The difficulties footballers face at home is highlighted, when England star Kieran Trippier and wife Charlotte let the cameras into their home. Charlotte says: “When we first moved to Madrid I was on my own for so long. I felt so lonely. People don’t see that side to it.

“About four months in I was saying to him: I don’t know if I can stay here. I feel depressed. I have no family of friends here. I was the language barrier that made it so hard. I said I don’t know if I can do it. We might have to look at me going back. I don’t feel happy here. “

Trippier added: You found it hard. It was a difficult choice because I was playing in the Champions League at one of the biggest clubs in Europe. I got offered a new contract. But family is more important. Family comes first.”‌

5. Staveley leading from the front

It is unusual to see a club chief hugging their manager, clasping his cheeks and calling him “My angel…” But that’s the welcome Staveley gives Eddie Howe. Unusual also to see an owner in the dressing room doing a mini-team talk.

Some may sneer, but it looks like it creates a connection between the football squad and the business end of the club. Staveley Facetimes new signing Anthony Gordon and says he has her mobile and to call if he has any problems. She’s hands-on and living it, and that means she can feel the ups and downs and what’s required. It’s better than a disinterested owner.

In one address to the players, Staveley says: “Last week I said you are in a special place and we are so proud of you. You are in this place because you have worked so hard. You have listened to Eddie, you have made us so proud. You are going to Wembley, you are going to get the Champions bloody League this year, I am telling you because you are on fire. You’ve done this in ONE year! It is you guys!”

6. Apprentice like scenes at Alnwick Castle

Big limos, ancient castle, Toon scarfs draped on statues, but no Alan Sugar! Board meetings are turned into away days at Alnwick Castle.

Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan plays table football and tells his opponents: “Look at me, I am captain..!” Asked how involved he is in the day to day running of the club, Al-Rumayyan, als PIF chairman, says: “Zero.”

“I am the chairman of many things. If I am going to be involved on a daily basis on how to manage the club I may as well fire the management and sit in their position. The chairman should look at the strategy then it isI trust you I support you, let’s do it.”

However he seems hands-on in making key decisions. There are weekly calls to the PIF investment strategists who have to sign off key deals. The meeting hears the simple way to create a winning team is to have the highest wage bill.

7. Everton hit by “hardball” negotiating over Gordon

Newcastle signed Anthony Gordon from Everton in January Newcastle signed Anthony Gordon from Everton in January (


Richard Sellers/Getty Images)

The Merseyside club initially asked for £60m, £50m plus £10m bonuses, for winger Anthoiny Gordon in January. Newcastle ended up forking out £40m “cash up front” PIF investments chiefs discuss how much to bid for Gordon in a Zoom call.

Chairman Al-Rumayyan says: “I don’t usually get involved in whether we should get this player or that player. But ok, he is good. Definitely. But we are not going to overspend otherwise we will be in breach of fair play. The emotions should come last, not first.”

Staveley says: “Give us the opportunity to play hardball. It is hard, it is hard. Anthony is going to be one of the best players in the league and Eddie adores him. At the moment we don’t have the ability to spend what we would like to spend on players.”

8. Shirt sponsorship problems

Newcastle needed a new shirt sponsor for this season… but had only five months to do a deal. It usually takes 18 months. Provoked by the Toon takeover, the Premier League bans owner-related sponsorship deals.

“I was shocked we could buy a club, pay a full price and the rules change. That is what pissed me off. We had so little revenue anyway. And we were 20th. I was angry then,” says Staveley. After a month the rules are changed, to ensure only that the deal is fair market value.

New commercial chief Peter Silverstone leads the sponsorship search and says: “We approached 1,193 companies. 65 held a first meeting and there are still 9 active conversations.” The Toon end up with a partnership with Sela, a sports marketing firm owned by their owners the PIF

Steveley asks: “They are a related party. Can we defend the value? “

Silverstone adds: “The Sela deal is one we should progress. It is a fantastic deal. It is more about what it is going to do for our fan growth in Saudi. The No1 sport in Saudi is football. It is such an important market to capitalize on. I want us to be the most supported club in Saudi. Having a Saudi brand will grow that fanbase and more commercial revenues.”

The board hears that rivals want to “make sure Champions League places are available to as few (rivals) as possible.”

_We are Newcastle United airs on Prime Video with the first episode on Friday 11th August , followed by new episodes every Friday through to September 1st _

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