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04th Mar 2022

Eddie Howe grilled by journalist over Russia-Saudi Arabia comparison

Daniel Brown

‘You are the face of the club’

Eddie Howe refused to be drawn into conversations about the integrity of Newcastle United’s Saudi Arabian ownership in the aftermath of Roman Abramovich’s announcement that he was selling Chelsea.

Abramovich revealed that he was handing over the ‘stewardship’ of Chelsea to the trustees of the club’s charitable foundation, before later announcing that he would be putting the club up for sale after 19 years in charge.

It came after MPs called for the Blues owner to be sanctioned amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Abramovich has faced criticism over his alleged links to Russian president Vladimir Putin, which he has denied.

Since Newcastle were officially taken over by the Public Investment Fund, concerns have been raised about the country’s human rights record.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, however, a number of figures have suggested that increased scrutiny should be placed on Saudi Arabia’s military operations in Yemen. As recently as last month, Reuters reported that warplanes of the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen struck a telecommunications compound in the Houthi-held capital Sanaa, which followed an earlier round of attacks on the site.

The Morning Star added that at least one one civilian was killed and more than 10 injured in the latest Saudi-led air strikes on residential areas in Yemen, which was accompanied by missile and artillery fire.

Following news of Saudi-led air strikes on residential areas in Yemen, and Russia being hit with sanctions following president Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Magpies boss Howe was asked if he was ‘concerned’ if the authorities could ‘look at Newcastle’ next.

“I’m not going to predict what people will do, I’ll only react to clear facts that I have in front of me, so I think commenting on things like that is not relevant to me,” replied Howe.

The former Bournemouth boss was then reminded that he is the ‘face of the club’ and that he works for a Saudi-owned club, and that Saudi Arabia is currently involved in a war in its neighbour – much like Russia are.

He was once again asked if he thought Saudi Arabia could be ‘looked at’.

Howe responded: “I’m a football manager, and I’m coaching the ream to try and gets results, that’s all I’m going to comment on.”

Newcastle host Brighton Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday, hoping to increase the cap between them and the bottom three sides.

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