Eddie Howe's response to Newcastle United ownership questions
Howe was today asked about the relationship between Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which holds an 80% stake in the club, and the state after a court document filed in the USA described club chairman and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan as “a sitting minister of the Saudi government”.
The club’s ownership group had had to demonstrate a degree of separation between the club and the Saudi state before the takeover was belatedly approved by the Premier League.
Asked about this week’s headlines, Howe said: “I’ve had very open communication from the day that I joined with various people connected to the board.
"But my conversations with them are all football-related, at no stage has it ever gone political.
“That’s not my area, I don’t want it to be my area. I want to concentrate on how I can improve the team, what tools do I need to do that – and the relationships with those people around me at the football club are very important.
“Obviously, if I felt there was a time I needed to ask a question, I could. But I haven’t done that.”
Amnesty International, which highlighted Saudi Arabia’s human rights record during the takeover process, have on the Premier League to re-examine the guarantees provided by the club’s owners before the £305million takeover was completed in late 2021.
The organising body belatedly approved the buyout by Amanda Staveley’s consortium after receiving “legally-binding assurances” of separation between the state and PIF, which is chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
Richard Masters, the Premier League’s chief executive, declined to comment on the matter after his on-stage appearance at the Financial Times Business of Football Summit in London on yesterday.
It was left to Howe, speaking at his press conference ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Manchester City, to field questions on the matter.
Asked if he understood why Amnesty International had issued its plea to the Premier League, Howe said: “I’m not the right person to ask.
“Obviously, the focus comes on me, because I’m sat in front of you every week, but I don’t think – as I’ve said many times – it’s a conversation for me to necessarily brief on these matters, because I’m not really qualified to do it.”