Eddie Howe confirms ‘closed’ Saudi Arabia trip for Newcastle United
Newcastle United will travel to Saudi Arabia during the Premier League winter break, Eddie Howe has confirmed.
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The Magpies, knocked out of this year’s FA Cup by Cambridge United, won’t play again until February 8 after the trip to Leeds United on Saturday.
In a bid to turnaround the club’s season and achieve top-flight survival, Howe hopes the trip to the Middle East will bring unity and a new-found team spirit.
Warm mid-season training camps are something United have done previously. Indeed, they often travelled to Spain under Rafa Benitez.
This will be Newcastle’s first time in Saudi Arabia, whose Public Investment Fund, chaired by Yasir Al-Rumayyan, own 80 per cent of the club.
‘The facilities will be first class’
“It’s a football decision,” Howe said. “We’re doing it for the benefit of the players in our fight to stay in the division. That’s my only thought.
“The distance is not too far. We have to take everything into account.
“We’ve got a big gap from our next game. I think we’re quite comfortable with the travelling and the effects that will have on the players.
“The facilities will be first class, we’ll be well looked after and the players, in terms of Covid, everything will be very tight.
“We’ll try and look after everybody, do some good work and come back even an even more united squad.”
Meeting the owners?
Non-executive chairman Al-Rumayyan has been present in the directors’ box alongside Amanda Staveley and Mehrdad Ghodoussi for games against Tottenham Hotspur and Cambridge.
Howe did not confirm whether or not he will meet Al-Rumayyan, or Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, during the trip to the Gulf state.
Howe said: “I don’t know any more details at the moment.”
NewcastleWorld understands it will be a closed trip, meaning no access for UK media, though Howe is likely to do a virtual press conference whilst over there.
Howe’s side could also play a friendly, with the club set to announce full details in due course.