Oh, how the tides have turned for Newcastle United.
This time last season the Magpies had been trampled 4-1 by Manchester United, and they helplessly dwindled down into the relegation zone with a mere point to their name.
Flash forward a year, and the mood around St James’ Park could not be more different.
After the appointment of Eddie Howe, some investment in the transfer market, and upheaval within the club from top to bottom, Newcastle look just about ready to take on anyone.
And now, the Toon expects no less than European football next season.
All of this came about after the club received quite a bit of the commodity which could easily change plenty of fortunes, money.
Backed by the vast riches of the Public Investment Fund, the Saudis took ownership, injecting a quadrupled-sized dose of adrenaline into the side.
Newcastle’s future has never looked brighter, and there is seemingly no ceiling to their potential success.
Of course, when a State comes traipsing in and grabs a globally known sports institution for themselves, there are always calls of ‘sports washing’.
Usually, these sides even turn into giant advertising hoards for the owners’ various investments and businesses, a trend which Newcastle are likely to follow.
It all started with rumours which suggested that the club may be looking to ditch sponsor Fun88, an online gambling company, as Gambling is illegal in Saudi Arabia.
These reports also suggested that a Saudi Arabian airline is all set to follow in its stead, and become the Magpies’ sponsor.
This potential switch-up has since seen a delay, as Fun88 continues to sponsor the team, although their contract will come to a premature end next season.
Evidently, things are in place for a Saudi-based airline to take over, and now, we’ve received a very strong hint at exactly who the airline is going to be.
As part of the Kingdom’s bet on tourism, an airline named ‘RIA’ is set to launch in Q4 of this year, aided by an investment of $30bn dollars.
It will look to compete directly with UAE-based airline Emirates, which is known to sponsor some of Europe’s biggest clubs.
And as such, RIA’s presence on Newcastle’s shirt will be a step in the right direction, and the airline will only look to increase its portfolio of clubs from thereon.
The sponsorship deal will likely be a hefty one, and will almost certainly outweigh the sum put up by Fun88.
Aside from the added funds, Newcastle fans can also look forward to the absence of Fun88’s logo, which many thought to be an absolute eyesore.