Sheffield United: United World on claims Newcastle United deal has blocked Saudi Arabian help

The chief executive of the organisation which controls Sheffield United has denied it is a Saudi Arabian led project, after confronting claims it could prove difficult to strike deals with companies in the Middle Eastern kingdom following its Public Investment Fund’s purchase of Newcastle.

Sunday, 19th June 2022, 4:44 pm

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Abdullah Alghamdi, the chief executive of United World, was asked by The Star if the recent takeover at St James’ Park meant HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his associates will see sponsorship opportunities dry up as Saudi firms are encouraged to back to Premier League club instead.

Reminding they already enjoys the support of Riyadh based car rental specialists Yelo, whose logo appears on both United’s training kit and advertising boards across Bramall Lane, Alghamdi insisted UW should not be viewed as a Saudi project.

Sheffield United owner H.R.H Prince Abdullah bin Mosa'ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (left) and Stephen Bettis: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“I am not very knowledgeable about what is going on with Newcastle,” he said, reminding numerous high-profile figures at United, including manager Paul Heckingbottom and his assistant Stuart McCall, sit on UW’s leadership committee. “I am not connected.

“However, I will tell you a surprise about United World. We have 36 people in the leadership team.

“Those 36 people make decisions in every club. Seventeen nationalities are there. Saudis, we are in a minority. There is me, Princess Reem (Prince Abdullah’s daughter) and the Prince.”

Newcastle United have been bought by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Alghamdi, previously a senior figure with Saudi Arabia’s Olympic committee, oversees UW on Prince Abdullah’s behalf from its headquarters in Geneva. Last week, United and their sister clubs Beerschot, Chateauroux, Kerala United and Al-Hilal United signed a new group wide agreement with Italian kit manufacturers Errea.

Speaking at the launch event in Parma, Alghamdi revealed it could be the first of several similar deals rolled-out across UW.

Despite insisting UW is still capable of pursuing partnerships in Saudi, where plans for a footballing academy project have reached an advanced stage, he said: “We are very diversified with women, and we are trying to bring more in. British people, with Hecky and (United chief executive) Steven (Bettis) and others; they are probably the majority. Most are English. There are 13 languages spoken within the group. We are not a Saudi company or an Arabic speaking company.”

United World CEO Abdullah Alghamdi