Saudi Arabia-owned Newcastle will host the oil-rich kingdom’s national team for two friendly games in September, including against Jurgen Klinsmann-coached South Korea.
The games against Costa Rica on September 8 and South Korea four days later were announced on Wednesday by Newcastle, whose majority owner is the Public Investment Fund that manages $700 billion of Saudi sovereign wealth.
They could be the debut games coaching the Saudi team for Roberto Mancini who unexpectedly left his job Sunday with European champion Italy.
Mancini is reportedly going to take the Saudi Arabia job five months before the Asian Cup hosted by defending champion Qatar. The Saudis are drawn in a group with Kyrgyzstan, Oman and Thailand.
Hosting the national team deepens the Saudi-Newcastle ties since a 300 million pounds ($382 million) purchase in 2021 that now looks a bargain.
The English Premier League approved the takeover after accepting assurances from PIF it was separate from the Saudi state and that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who chairs the fund, would not have a say in running the club.
Newcastle wore a white and green jersey very similar to the Saudi national team in some games last season as an alternative to its iconic black and white stripes.
Newcastle said tickets for the international games at St. James’ Park would cost just five pounds ($6.40) for adults.
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