Newcastle United have come under fire from fans offended by their ‘awful’ new away kit in the green and white of Saudi Arabia – but plenty are willing to buy and wear it.
Some supporters are happy to embrace the traditional colours of the Gulf state as their Public Investment Fund pump in millions of pounds to transform the club’s fortunes.
But others are repulsed by the thought of their team running out in colours intrinsically linked to a state with a terrible human rights record.
Sportsmail revealed the new Castore kit design on Thursday night – it features the Newcastle crest coloured in green on a white background, with the collar and sleeve trims also in green.
It bears a striking resemblance to the traditional shirt colours of the Saudi national team.
The strip is likely to attract criticism from opponents of the ownership, who had to satisfy the Premier League there was no connection between PIF and the Saudi State before their £305million takeover was approved in October.
The club, however, will see the kit design as a good opportunity to increase their revenue potential via shirt sales in Saudi, whilst also representing their majority owners.
Whether many of their more traditional fans buy the kit is open to question, judging by reactions to Sportsmail’s story on Twitter.
Newcastle United 22-23 Away Kit leaked pic.twitter.com/Ts8wJvwZ05
— Ayça (@aycazehraakcay) May 12, 2022
Plenty of fans on social media made clear they wouldn’t be spending their cash on the kit and admitted to being morally offended by it.
One Newcastle fan tweeted: ‘Tell me this isn’t true. Just when we’ve found a way to live with the reality, something like this comes along to remind us. Awful.’
Another said: ‘Sorry like but that is rank. Just because we are owned by them doesn’t mean we should look like them.’
One more fan tweeted: ‘I hate this, and I’m a huge Newcastle fan. I just can’t get on board with integrating Saudi into our brand and identity.’
‘This is genuinely awful. Can’t quite grasp how so many are backing it,’ said another. One wrote: ‘Nothing about that is right.’
But there were plenty willing to buy and wear the ‘Saudi’ kit and hoped it would trigger plenty of shirt sales in the region.
One Newcastle fan wrote: ‘Something like this will look really good. It’s defo going to be criticised but this will sell really well in Saudi and help boost our commercial revenue which in turn will help with future transfer windows and FFP [Financial Fair Play].’
Another wrote: ’20 million shirt sales in Saudi at 100 quid a go – do the math.’
Another Toon fan said: ‘Brilliant marketing move, love it and should [do] great sales in Saudi. Will be buying one of these beauties on day of release.’
Another chimed in: ‘Have we seen the back yet? Hopefully there’s a little Saudi flag at the top in the centre where they usually write NUFC.’
Others pointed out that Newcastle played in similar green and white colours during the 1999-2000 season, albeit a long time before the Saudi ownership.
‘We’ve had Green and White shirts in the past btw…’ wrote one fan.
Another said: ‘In my lifetime we had grey, grey/black stripes, yellow/green stripes, yellow with flecks, purple/blue hoops, yellow, white, light blue… to be honest as long as we don’t have red and white [Sunderland colours] I couldn’t care less what the away shirt is. If it winds people up I love it.’
It comes on the back of head coach Eddie Howe warning that Newcastle’s spending power will be impacted by financial rules this summer.
Sportsmail reported last month that a transfer budget of £60-80million plus player sales has been mooted within the game.
The Magpies were Europe’s biggest spenders in January, investing £94m in five players in what was the first transfer window under Saudi-led ownership.
The new regime have stated their ambition to compete with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool at the top of the Premier League. But their New Year splurge, coupled with no extra revenue having yet been generated by way of commercial deals, means that the club will operate with caution this summer.
Howe said: ‘With Financial Fair Play, we have restraints and we have things that we have to work within.
‘We can’t just go out and spend money on players like maybe teams could have done in the past, and totally change their squad within one transfer window. That is not an option for us.
‘The more money you spend in one window, the more it impacts your ability to then spend in windows beyond. The rules are there to govern the game properly and we have to follow suit, so that does impact what we can do this summer.
‘But it doesn’t mean that we’re totally without ambition. We’re well aware that we have to change the squad and we have to make improvements, but it’s going to be a difficult balance.’
Howe, though, rejects the suggestion that supporters have been misled with regards the ambition of the new owners.
‘No, not from the vision that was sold to them, because the club will get there,’ he said. ‘I am a believer in that the club will get to where it wants to be. The time it takes to get there, I think that is something no one can predict.’
Newcastle’s focus will be on signing a goalscorer this summer, with doubts over the fitness of Callum Wilson and potency of Chris Wood.
Shortlists are being drawn up and, among the names in attacking positions, Sportsmail understands Everton’s Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Benfica’s Darwin Nunez, Leverkusen’s Patrik Schick, Alexander Isak of Real Sociedad and Reims teenager Hugo Ekitike have all been discussed.