Newcastle United begins its new era under Saudi ownership when it faces Tottenham Hotspur at St James’ Park with Steve Bruce set for his 1000th game as a manager and possibly his last with the North East club.
Last week, to the delight of its fans, Newcastle was sold to a consortium dominated by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) alongside minority partners PCP Capital Partners and RB Sports & Media.
While human rights groups such as Amnesty International have condemned the Saudi take over, Newcastle supporters are delighted to see former owner Mike Ashley sell his stake in the club and have relished the promises of “heavy” investment in new players.
Many fans would also like to see the back of Bruce who, despite hailing from the region and managing to keep the club in the top flight, has been unpopular with supporters.
Media reports and bookmakers are already speculating on his successor, but after a meeting with the new board, Bruce remains in his position.
Sunday’s game is likely to see further celebrations from Newcastle fans, but could be an awkward occasion for Bruce — if he remains in charge of the team which is next to bottom of the Premier League.
Newcastle’s goal is to break into the elite of English football, a status Tottenham has enjoyed in recent seasons but is struggling to maintain.
Spurs appeared to be cementing itself in the top echelon after four straight seasons of top four finishes, including in 2019 when it reached the Champions League final.
But the past two seasons have seen the club end sixth and then seventh and a mixed start under new manager Nuno Espirito Santo has left Spurs in eighth place going into Sunday’s game.
Chelsea is the early leader after seven games but faces a tricky test on Saturday at promoted Brentford, which has impressed with wins over Arsenal and West Ham United and a draw with Liverpool.
Manchester United begins a series of tricky games, after the disappointment of a defeat to Aston Villa and a draw with Everton, with a visit to Leicester City on Saturday.
Liverpool kicks off the weekend at Watford on Saturday lunchtime while Manchester City will expect three points at home to winless Burnley.