Every word Eddie Howe said on Newcastle United takeover anniversary & Saudi Arabian ownership

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Everything Eddie Howe said on Newcastle United’s one-year takeover anniversary, the club’s Saudi Arabian owners and plans for the future.

On exactly 12 months to the day when Newcastle United were acquired by PCP Partners, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia and RB Sports & Media - Magpies head coach Eddie Howe sat down with the local and national media to preview Saturday’s Premier League clash with Brentford.

During the half-hour press conference, Howe was asked about the impact of the takeover - both on and off the pitch - and the links to Saudi Arabia amid outrage over the Gulf State’s human rights record.

Here’s a full transcript of what the 44-year-old said:

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Can you sum up how far, in your time, the club has come under the owners?

“The club has come a long way. The positivity, first and foremost, is what hit me in terms of the takeover and what may lie ahead for the club in the future.

“That positivity is still there I think that is a very difficult thing to keep.

“Everyone behind the scenes has done a very good job in putting building blocks in place for what the club needs for long-term success.

“Hopefully we can deliver that.”

How important are the behind-the-scenes changes?

“It’s hugely important because without those long-term structures in place, the long-term success isn’t going to happen.

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“First of all, you need good people in the right positions with a long-term plan. You then need the freedom to execute that plan.

“Everyone is under pressure but not under consistent pressure every day because you’ve got to make the right decisions for the long-term.

“There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes to improve everything we deliver for our current players and players we’ll have as we continue to exist.

“I’m very positive about the future.”

What has pleased you most?

“Probably the controlling of emotions, it’s been very stable.

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“When I look back at the early weeks we had which were high pressured, not always the outcome we wanted, I think there was a calmness and understanding of the position we were in.

“Yes we all wanted instant results and get out of the relegation situation but I think there was an understanding of the dynamic.

“A lot of support in those early days was hugely important for what happened afterwards.”

What has the takeover done for Newcastle as a city, and as a club?

“For the club itself, it’s transformed, first the feeling and then the vision. The vision will drive this club into hopefully a very successful future.

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“For the city, I think the city bounces off what the football club is doing and the feeling within the football club.

“With that positivity inside the club, you’re feeling that around the city. It’s my job to try and keep that for as long as possible.”

How big will October 7, 2021, be in English football in years to come?

“Time will tell. It’s very difficult to predict what will happen from this point. We all know where we want it to go, but it’s football, it’s life - nothing is ever in a straight line or comes easy.

“There’s a lot work ahead, a long way to go before we’re close to where we want to be. We’re building blocks all the time and the foundations towards success but we know it’s not going to be a straight line.”

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Big changes, a lot of money spent - do you understand why some people are uncomfortable over the source of that money?

“Yes, I do and I understand the question, but for me the directors’ and owners’ test ratified by the Premier League, I have to have faith in that process.

“Obviously I’ve been the decision-maker behind where some of that money has gone, and I’ve looked at it purely from a football perspective trying to recruit the best players for Newcastle."

What do the next 12 months look like?

“Very difficult to predict. I’ve always stayed away from predictions and trying to give you a clear answer to that. All I will say from my perspective is we will try and improve the team to the best of our ability to try and take us to another level.

“Certainly, in the early stages of this season, I’ve been really pleased with the attitude of the players in that quest.”

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Are you ahead of schedule in the plans put in place?

“I don’t necessarily have a timeline as such for different things. You’re working with a long-term vision of trying to take the team where you want to go, but then you work week-to-week trying to get results and trying to elevate everything that you deliver for the players.

“I think there’s been a process we’ve gone through and changes in our style of play slightly as we’ve evolved, so those changes have taken place probably month-by-month, subtle tweaks, changes to the team, changes to what we’re doing, and I think there will be more to come.

“We’re starting the process – I don’t think we’re anywhere near what we can be yet.”

How do you rationalise Saudi Arabian ownership?

“For me – and I’ve said this right from day one – it’s always about the football for me. If I veer too far from that and I go into areas of the club that won’t benefit my players or the team, then I’m not going to do my players justice.

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“Everything for me is about trying to get the best out of the players that I have every single day, and hopefully that shows when we play. I’ve never veered too far from that in my management career and I think that’s vitally important for me."

Do you remember the takeover news breaking 12 months ago? Where were you in the world?

“I do but not with any major reaction really. It was nice to see some of the scenes and the happiness. I had watched from afar and seen that it was a difficult moment previously. But there was no hint of what was to come for me so I was just watching like everyone else. I was pleased for the people.”

Did you think back then that you’d like to manage Newcastle post-takeover?

“As I’ve said, every time I came to Newcastle as an opposition manager I was very impressed with the environment, the club, everything about it. The matchday experience was very good, very special. But nothing more than that. There had never been any hint of anything happening with Newcastle before.”

Did you have any hesitation in taking the job because of the identity of the owners?

“No, because when you look back the takeover happened very quickly. I don’t think there were any real rumours that it was going to happen.

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“For me, the owners and directors test, the Premier League had ratified the takeover andI have to have faith in that process.

“When the job offer came to me I am looking at it purely on a football basis. Do I want to manage Newcastle United? And the answer was a resounding yes from me for all the reasons I’ve given before.

“So, I was purely looking at it from a football perspective.”

It is important to stress that this is a country that is an economic, military and strategic ally of the UK that invests in all sorts of UK businesses. Is that the sort of thought process you have now when you think about the owners?

“That gives a different slant on a lot of what is said and yes I’m aware of that. I’ve never really answered these questions in press conferences because I don’t want to go into an area that is not a specialist subject for me. If I start engaging in those conversations, I go into an area where I’m not comfortable. I don’t have the knowledge.

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“You could come back to me with another question and I go ‘oooph, you have blown me away with that and I don’t have a follow-up answer to it’.

“But, I am aware of that [they are allies] and i think it does give strength to the owners and directors test which was vigorous. My faith goes into that process.”

As a Times reader, you like to keep abreast of world politics – do you read Amnesty and other stuff on Saudi Arabia?

“Let me clarify what newspaper I used to buy. I used to like to invest in shares – my grandad got me into that when I was very, very young so I used to buy those papers for the shares not so much for the world news. I don’t buy a paper now.

“I am on the internet like everyone else and this is a genuinely truthful answer considering how busy I am, I don’t have time to trawl through newspapers and look at political articles That is not really what I do.

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“It is something that I am aware of certain situations that happen, more from you guys and the media team here. So I am aware of it.”

What were your thoughts when you read the open letter from Yasir Al-Rumayyan?

“I’m really pleased he’s communicated with the supporters and everyone connected with the club, I think that’s very, very healthy.

“Yes, the long-term version is there in black and white but that’s nothing I didn’t know or want really for the team or club or myself.

“It’s great we’re all there supporting the team and club. I think it’s really important everyone has a voice as well.

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Have you wondered have different the job might have been under the previous ownership?

"No, I haven’t really. Again, I’m not sure that would have been useful energy for me.

“I was attracted by Newcastle and everything surrounding the club before the takeover. I haven’t elevated myself into that, and that’s probably a good job because the reality when I got here and the positivity and everything that has happened since has been so good to be part of.

“I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any different."

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