Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global
NZ NZ

'I would welcome Saudi investment': Diamond details Newcastle backing

By Chris Jones
Worcester Warriors Director of Rugby Steve Diamond during a press conference at Sixways Stadium, Worcester. Picture date: Friday September 23, 2022. (Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images)

Newcastle Falcons are preparing to host representatives of the Saudi sovereign Public Investment Fund (PIF), hoping to attract crucial financial backing from the kingdom that already funds Newcastle United football club in the city.

ADVERTISEMENT

Steve Diamond, the consultant director of rugby, believes that while funding is not currently on the table, the visitors will be impressed enough to consider adding the Falcons to their sporting teams.

Diamond said: “I know they’re coming over to one of our home games. They’re in many sports at the minute and they want rugby to be a focus point in Saudi Arabia. I don’t think for a minute it was about going there, opening a war chest, and saying I can go and buy the All Blacks team. I would like that but I don’t think that’s going to happen. There is a natural connection with the soccer team here who are owned by those people.”

Video Spacer

How do the Springboks beat Ireland in July series? | RPTV

The Boks Office on what the Springboks need to do to beat a very strong Ireland side in their series in July. Watch the full show on RugbyPass TV

Watch now

Video Spacer

How do the Springboks beat Ireland in July series? | RPTV

The Boks Office on what the Springboks need to do to beat a very strong Ireland side in their series in July. Watch the full show on RugbyPass TV

Watch now

Saudi funding in football, golf and boxing has focussed on the nation’s human rights record and while Diamond is well aware of the potential negative reaction, he believes rugby cannot turn any financial back away at a time when the Premiership clubs are losing millions every season.

“I think we should call that (human rights record) into question,” he added.

“I am not skilled enough to talk about human rights but it doesn’t seem to bother any other sport performing in Saudi Arabia. Rugby union is very good at killing itself isn’t it? There’s only rugby good enough to shoot itself in the foot with any political statement and turn away investment.

“I don’t think there is potential investment (in Falcons) at the minute. Semore Kudri (Falcons owner) through his business contacts went out and met all the rugby union dignitaries in Saudi Arabia. I don’t think for a minute they’re expecting us to put a game on before the Tyson Fury fight in May in Riyadh. But they want to investigate how we can help them and how they can reciprocate if there is any investment.”

Diamond finds it “bizarre” that the Premiership is planning to raise the salary cap from £5m to £6.4m next season and Newcastle don’t even reach the current limit let alone aim to increase their spending on players. In fact, the Falcons are planning to cut 20 players to create a 36-strong senior squad next season supplemented by academy players.

ADVERTISEMENT

He added: “I would welcome Saudi investment. Bizarrely, maybe I’ll get my legs chopped off for this, the salary cap is going up and it beggars belief really. Club rugby is in a delicate position. It needs to get out of the jam its found itself in.“

Diamond, who takes Newcastle to Exeter Chiefs on Saturday in his first league game in charge having replaced Alex Codling, has lost Guy Pepper to Bath while Phil Brantingham and Louie Johnson are off to Saracens with the director of rugby claiming all three could be “trapped in the bowels of the super-clubs.”

He said: “Saracens have a track record of winning things – Bath haven’t. My advice to those players was not to go, even if they were only going to sign for one or two years here, because they’d get more out of playing for me, playing week-in, week-out, than they will do trapped in the bowels of the super-clubs.”

Related

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Join free

LIVE

{{item.title}}

Trending on RugbyPass

Comments

25 Comments
B
Bull Shark 91 days ago

He’ll sooner get his hands chopped off..

T
Turlough 91 days ago

Rugby was a game with a reputation for honour. Being owned by a murderous regime is not honorable. There are more important things in life than sport. Money should not trump everything.

Load More Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free
ADVERTISEMENT

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

FEATURE
FEATURE Eddie Jones turns to university talent in second coming as Japan coach Eddie Jones turns to university talent in second coming as Japan coach
Search