Eddie Howe ‘doesn’t feel qualified’ to speak on Newcastle’s Saudi ownership

Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe accepted the fact that he would constantly be questioned about Saudi Arabian ownership of the Premier League club but said on Wednesday that he was only qualified to talk about football.

Newcastle were taken over in October by a consortium led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which is chaired by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi Arabia has been in the limelight due to its human rights record that was highlighted by Amnesty International and last week executed 81 men in the kingdom’s biggest mass execution in decades.After Newcastle’s defeat to Chelsea, Howe was asked about several times about the executions and he said “I’m just going to stick to football”.

On Wednesday, when asked if he was reading up about the situation with the Saudi Arabian ownership, the 44-year-old said: “Yes, definitely I’ve done that and will continue to do so.

“It’s a difficult one for everyone concerned, I understand that questions have to be asked, I have no problems with that. But I have always said my specialist subject is football – it’s what I know, it’s what I’ve trained to do,” Howe told reporters.

“As soon as I deviate from that into an area where I don’t feel qualified to have a huge opinion, I think I go into dangerous ground.

“So I prefer to stick to what I believe I know. I’m hugely proud to represent this football club, the supporters and the city. I’m trying to create a team the city can be proud of, all my energy is going into that.”

However, Howe said he would look to learn more about the issues.

“Obviously part of my job now in the modern football management scene is to know what’s going on around the world, and I will have to do that,” he added.

“But football will have to be and will always be my passion, it will always be the main crux of my job and I think that’s where my time needs to be spent.”

Newcastle, 14th, travel to Everton on Thursday and Howe said Joe Willock was set to return from illness but doubts remain over Jonjo Shelvey and Joelinton’s availability.

Frank Lampard’s Everton sit one spot above the relegation zone after a four-match losing streak and Howe said he expected an emotionally charged atmosphere at Goodison Park.

“It’ll be a big occasion,” Howe said. “It will be a severe test. They have a great set of players. I admire Frank Lampard and we will need to be at our best.”

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