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Newcastle owners given stark reminder of task ahead after loss to Tottenham

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 Featured Photo Caption:Newcastle United fans have had little to cheer in recent years so perhaps it was little wonder many got carried away on Sunday by the optimism surrounding the club’s new Saudi Arabian-backed era, no matter the consequences

But then the football started.

Prior to kick-off against Tottenham, the city was awash with excitement. Fans swarmed the streets around St James’ Park dressed in black and white. Some wore headdresses and draped Saudi flags in tribute to their new owners, who have promised a brighter future after years of stagnation. More than anything, they have provided hope to a club which has been treading water.

Saudi Arabian students who had travelled from Birmingham were asked for pictures, Kuwaiti students based in Newcastle had turned up to sample the “vibes”. Over the road from the statue of former manager Sir Bobby Robson, a drummer inspired supporters to dance.

Such exuberant scenes were in stark contrast, though, to a protest nearby. A van with a picture of the murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi circled the stadium. Western intelligence agencies believe the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered Khashoggi’s murder in 2018 – which he denies.

Inside the ground, Newcastle’s fans were determined to celebrate. The group Wor Flags were taking their seats for the first time in 897 days. They had turned their backs on the club because of disillusionment over Mike Ashley’s 14-year reign, but had returned to display their vision of the future in front of the new owners.

Their flag, which stretched across the Gallowgate End, quoted lyrics from Big River, a 1995 song by local hero Jimmy Nail.

“This is a mighty town built upon a solid ground,” it said. “And everything they’ve tried so hard to kill, we will rebuild.”

Its reveal was met with the type of roar we have come to expect from St James’ Park. Some fans were in tears about a day they thought might never come.

It must have been everything that part-owner Amanda Staveley hoped for as she was joined in the directors’ box by new non-executive chair Yasir Al-Rumayyan, who is also the governor of the Saudi state’s Public Investment Fund, which has provided 80% of the capital for the £305m takeover.

The euphoria was palpable, and it carried over into the match as Callum Wilson nodded in a header after two minutes to make home fans believe again.

Source:Newcastle owners given stark reminder of task ahead after loss to Tottenham – BBC Sport

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