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Howe dodges row over Newcastle’s Saudi ownership

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has refused to become embroiled in a fresh row over the club’s Saudi ownership, saying he is not qualified to talk on the matter.

The club have been thrust into the spotlight again after court papers filed in the United States described chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan as a minister in the Saudi Arabian government.

That raises questions over the Premier League’s confirmation that it had received “legally-binding assurances” of the separation between the state and its Public Investment Fund (PIF), of which he is governor.

Newcastle have been 80 percent owned by the PIF, which is Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, since October 2021.

Asked about the latest development on Friday, Howe, whose side face reigning champions Manchester City this weekend, said his focus was on his players.

“The minute I deviate from that is the minute I go into dangerous waters for me and I waste energy in areas that don’t help the players,” he told reporters.

“For me, my main job is to coach the players and get them in the best place possible.”

He was asked further if the club’s owners needed to speak to clarify matters and lift the pressure to do so from his shoulders.

“Obviously the focus comes on me because I’m sat in front of you every week,” he said.

“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.”

He added: “I wouldn’t say it gets in the way of my job at all.

“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.

“Now obviously if I felt there was a time I needed to ask a question, I could. But I haven’t done that.”

Newcastle missed out on the chance to end their 54-year wait to win a major trophy last weekend, when they lost the League Cup final to Manchester United at Wembley.

Saturday’s trip to the defending champions offers the Magpies the opportunity to kickstart their pursuit of a top-four finish in the Premier League.

Howe’s men sit fifth in the table but have won just once in their last seven league games.

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