St James’ Park will host two international friendly fixtures for Saudi Arabia next month while Newcastle United aren’t in action.

During the international break for Premier League clubs, Saudi Arabia will travel to Newcastle to play friendly matches against Costa Rica on September 8 (8pm kick-off) and South Korea on September 12 (5:30pm kick-off).
The matches come almost two years after Newcastle United were taken over by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund.
The Magpies first-team have twice visited Saudi Arabia since the takeover but this will mark the first time the Saudi national side has visited St James’ Park.
But Newcastle head coach Eddie Howe claimed he wasn’t aware of the friendlies being organised prior to the announcement last week.

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“I found out, like you, in the media,” he said. “I had no pre-knowledge of what was happening.
“All I’d say on that is I think Newcastle is an incredible venue to play not just football, but we’ve hand bands, rugby, lots of different people, sports at the stadium and it is a truly iconic place to play.”
While the decision to host Saudi Arabia’s national team has been met with some controversy and backlash, the club are likely to benefit financially.

“Yeah, possibly,” Howe responded when asked if the matches will provide a Financial Fair Play boost for his side. “I don’t know any of the details behind how we’ve got to this point in the game taking place.


“So whether it’s a financial decision, possibly that might have come into it.”


But Howe wouldn’t discuss any potential concerns over the decision to play the matches at St James’ Park as he added: “To be honest, I haven’t really given it too much thought because of how busy my schedule has been.


“As I said, I found out like you guys did in the media, and I very quickly moved on.”


Saudi Arabia shocked the football world last winter by beating eventual World Cup winners Argentina in their opening game of the tournament in Qatar. Defeats to Poland and Mexico in the other two group stage matches saw Saudi Arabia finish bottom of the group.

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