Amanda Staveley accuses Steve Bruce of not ‘wanting to come to work’ after Saudi Newcastle takeover

Amanda Staveley accuses Steve Bruce of not 'wanting to come to work' after Saudi Newcastle takeover
Steve Bruce was sacked by Newcastle in October 2021 - Getty Images/Paul Ellis

Newcastle United co-owner Amanda Staveley has accused former manager, Steve Bruce, of not wanting to come into work after the takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund.

Bruce held a meeting with the new owners at the training ground the day after the takeover was confirmed back in October 2021 where he informed them that, for the new regime to have a fresh start, he needed to be sacked as manager.

Bruce, who was already facing calls for his removal from angry supporters before the takeover was completed, was persuaded to carry on and was in the dugout for the first game of the new era, a 4-2 home defeat to Tottenham Hotspur. That was his 1000th game as a manager but he was sacked a few days later, with first team coach Graeme Jones put in temporary charge until the appointment of Eddie Howe three weeks later.

Asked how long it had taken for them to change things after the takeover at Bloomberg’s Power Player forum in Jeddah, Staveley replied: “Pretty fast. When you go in, you have all the hype of trying to acquire the club and it took us four years to do that. So you need to know that we’re patient and we know we were persistent, but there needed to be dramatic change.

“The club had been run in a very different format and we had very few commercial revenues. We had a team that was aged, a coach that didn’t want to, basically didn’t even want to come to work. We had a fanbase that was very angry. And we had to take this incredible club and inject it with some life.”

Telegraph Sport has approached Bruce for comment regarding Staveley’s claim.

Staveley: ‘When you over-regulate you can slow growth’

Staveley also argued that it is time for some “fresh thinking” when it comes to the restrictions imposed by the Premier League’s profit and sustainability rules as they are stifling the league’s overall growth as a global product.

Newcastle have the wealthiest owners in English football in the form of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which owns an 80 per cent controlling stake, but their vast financial resources have been rendered largely meaningless by PSR.

The club were unable to sign any new players in the January transfer window and are likely to have to sell some key members of Eddie Howe’s first team squad as they are struggling to keep within the parameters of the Premier League’s PSR. Clubs are allowed to record losses of just £105 million over a three-year period and several clubs are struggling to stay within those limits.

The same problems have led to potential points deductions for Everton and Nottingham Forest this season, while the likes of Aston Villa and Chelsea are also thought to be in danger of breaching the rules as they try to keep pace with the four richest clubs in EnglandArsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool.

Speaking at Bloomberg’s Power Players forum in Jeddah, it was pointed out to Staveley that the Premier League’s revenue was only equal to the USA’s National Hockey League, which is the fourth most popular sport in the States.

She warned that it was potentially damaging to the Premier League brand to handcuff aspirational clubs like Aston Villa and Newcastle – who unexpectedly finished fourth last season to qualify for the Champions League – whose owners have the wealth to compete with the so called Big Six for the best players, but are unable to invest in their businesses freely.

“We all have to do more to make sure that we grow our revenues,” Staveley said. “I think there’s been much more focus from Premier League owners to make sure we grow our commercial revenues. And our media and as a product we should be much more aggressive. There is a regulator coming in and there’s much more focus on sustainability.

“Sometimes, when you over-regulate you can slow growth and I think we have to make sure that we get the right balance between the right regulatory environment, the right rules and the right financial fair play rules that promote growth. That’s the only way you’re going to get great football.

“Actually, the one thing about the last few seasons in the Premier League is that any club can win any game. That’s good. That means you get some incredibly exciting football. We have to provide a great product. You’ll have to ask the executive team where they’re going in terms of making the Premier League even better.

“It’s a difficult time because there’s just been so much focus on sustainability that people have actually forgotten that we’re providing entertainment and we’ve got to grow this business. It’s not easy... football is difficult. You have very limiting financial fair play rules, you have so many rules and restrictions about player purchases. So it really does need some fresh thinking.”

Staveley: ‘I’m quite sure there will be a Saudi club in the Champions League’

Newcastle’s growth has been further restricted by new rules designed to make it harder for owners to pump money into their clubs through related party sponsorship deals. Manchester City has the highest revenue in England largely due to the benefits of these types of deals, but Saudi Arabia is being hampered in trying to do the same as Abu Dhabi did more than a decade ago.

Staveley, though, confirmed that PIF are still looking at potential clubs abroad to bring under the same umbrella as Newcastle United in a new multi-club format, which is something City’s owners have pioneered.

“I think we are very much (looking at a multi-club model),” Staveley added. “Multi-clubs are part of having football, it’s a real benefit to be able to have players and train players that aren’t part of your squad.

“The UEFA rules are changing and so we have to see what emerges. Obviously the dynamics around whether we could have a club have changed quite dramatically over the last year. I’m still a very big fan of the multi-club model, a lot of other competitors and friends in the Premier League have multi-club relationships, but it has to be considered as a whole.”

“We’ve looked at Belgium, we’ve looked at a lot of European markets, we’ve looked in Asia, Australia, we’ve looked in Brazil – pretty much everything. We’ve looked at every market to see and getting players through our academy system and through that multi-club model would be very helpful in terms of allowing us to buy and have players as part of our journey earlier on.”

Meanwhile, the 50-year-old financier claimed it is only a matter of time until a club from Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Pro League can play in European club competitions.

She said: “I’m quite sure there will be a Saudi club in the Champions League. I don’t know how long but, knowing Saudi, I don’t think it’ll take too long.”

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.