Newcastle's Howe says focused on games, not Saudi questions

NEWCASTLE, England (AP) — Newcastle manager Eddie Howe hasn't made inquiries about the Premier League team's ownership status after new questions were raised about Saudi Arabian investment in the club.

Howe on Friday said his focus is on weekend opponent Manchester City and that his communications with board members have been about on-field developments only.

The manager responded a day after the Premier League was urged to review a legally binding promise made by the club's owners in 2021 that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund was separate from the country’s government.

“I’ve not seeked any assurances. To be honest I’ve not given it too much time,” Howe said at a news conference ahead of Saturday's visit to Etihad Stadium. “I’m aware of the headlines, I’ve seen the headlines, but I haven’t really invested in the details behind it. I’ve got Manchester City to prepare for, and that genuinely has taken all my attention.”

A court document filed in the United States by lawyers for Saudi-backed LIV Golf in a case against the PGA Tour argues that the Public Investment Fund (PIF), whose governor Yasir Al Rumayyan is also chairman of Newcastle, should be regarded as “a foreign state.”

The document appeared to contradict a legal assurance accepted by the Premier League when a protracted takeover of Newcastle was completed in October 2021 with PIF having an 80% ownership stake.

At that time, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters told the BBC in an interview that the Saudi state would not control Newcastle and, if this was proved untrue, “we can remove the consortium as owners.”

Human rights group Amnesty International has asked the league to take another look, as has a Newcastle fan group.

Under Howe, Newcastle has improved dramatically and is one place away from a Champions League spot. The team reached the final of the League Cup, losing to Manchester United 2-0 last Sunday at Wembley.

“We had regular communications with different board members after the game so, yeah, I think we've been engaged probably more this week than most just because of the game and the importance of the game,” Howe said.


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