EDDIE HOWE is confident Newcastle United’s proposed sale of Allan Saint-Maximin to Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli will receive the green light from the Premier League despite being challenged by a number of the Magpies’ top-flight rivals.

Saint-Maximin is not part of the Newcastle squad that is currently in the United States competing in the Premier League Summer Series as he is on the brink of completing a move to the Middle East.

The Magpies have agreed a fee of around £30m for the French winger with Al-Ahli, but the proposed transfer is proving to be controversial because of the ownership crossover between the two clubs.

Al-Ahli are majority owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which also boasts an 80 per cent stake in Newcastle United. Howe has already admitted that the sale of Saint-Maximin is extremely beneficial to the Magpies as it enables them to make incoming signings of their own while still remaining within the financial parameters laid out by the Premier League’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

A number of top-flight clubs are understood to have submitted a letter to the Premier League authorities outlining their concerns at the way in which the deal has been constructed. A group of unnamed clubs have challenged the size of the fee that Newcastle are set to receive for Saint-Maximin, with the implication clearly being that Al-Ahli are overpaying on the deal to enable the PIF to transfer funds into Newcastle’s accounts, disguising an injection of capital as a transfer fee.

Howe has rejected that suggestion, expressing confidence that the deal will be allowed to proceed as planned.

“The deal is not confirmed, so it’s difficult to give too much detail or clarity on certain things,” said Howe, who was speaking at a press conference in the US ahead of Newcastle’s opening Summer Series game against Aston Villa. “But what I would say is that we’re governed by the same rules that every other Premier League club is regarding deals, so we will fit every criteria needed to make sure the deal is above board and done properly.”

Premier League regulations state that every deal that is agreed above the value of £1m have to be checked to ensure they do not exceed ‘market value’, regardless of whether associated parties are involved or not.


Howe was asked whether he regards the fee agreed for Saint-Maximin as ‘market value’, and said: “That’s difficult for me to say because I’ll have my opinion, but I’m sure it will satisfy the Premier League or whoever looks at the deal.”

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters is also in the US for the Summer Series, and is confident the existing regulations will be robust enough to ensure Newcastle are not able to secure an unfair advantage.

“That (the sale of Saint-Maximin) hasn’t happened yet, so it’s hypothetical,” said Masters, in an interview with Sky Sports. “What I can tell you is we have very strong and clear transaction rules which dictate that anything that is inter-company is expressed at fair market value.

“So very clear rules are in place – whether it be sponsorship or a player transfer. These are new rules that were brought in in 2021 and we believe they are doing their job.”

The sale of Saint-Maximin has been finalised in parallel with the discussions over the arrival of Harvey Barnes from Leicester City.

Newcastle have agreed a fee of around £38m for the Foxes midfielder, and Barnes has already completed a medical on Tyneside and agreed the personal terms of his switch to St James’ Park.

However, the transfer is still to be formally completed and confirmed, and Barnes is therefore yet to arrival to the US to link up with the rest of the Newcastle squad.

“There’s hope that (Barnes’ transfer) could possibly be done, but I’m loath to go into too much detail until it’s completed,” said Howe. “Harvey is a player I really, really like, but he’s still contracted to Leicester so that’s as much as I can say at this minute.”

Newcastle are also involved in ongoing discussions with Southampton over full-back Tino Livramento, although there is growing frustration at the Saints’ refusal to agree to certain aspects of the Magpies’ proposed deal.

There is still hope that a transfer could be agreed for a total package of around £30m, some of which will be dependent on a series of future clauses, with Southampton having to readjust to the realities of life in the Championship following their relegation from the top-flight last season.