Why Newcastle United were in trouble with UEFA ahead of Champions League game against AC Milan – after breaking rules

Newcastle players celebrate the victory during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Brentford at St. James's Park, Newcastle on Saturday 16th September 2023. (Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Newcastle United are in trouble with UEFA ahead of their return to the Champions League and their game against AC Milan at San Siro on Tuesday night, after turning up to their pre-match press conference two hours late on Monday. 

UEFA rules stipulate that Champions League sides must hold their pre-match press conference between 12pm and 8pm the day before their game. Newcastle United manager Eddie Howe and star player Sandro Tonali, though, only managed to speak to media at 9pm on Monday, two hours after they had originally planned to.

The Magpies are expected to escape punishment from Europe's governing body, however. With a storm hitting the Italian city in the early evening on Monday, Newcastle's flight was delayed by two hours and 20 minutes. 

Kieran Trippier leaves the Newcastle private terminal to board the plane to Milan for the UEFA Champions League Match on September 18, 2023 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

The Magpies were late leaving Newcastle on Monday (Image credit: Getty Images)

Given Newcastle United had no control over the delay, UEFA are only expected to issue them with a warning. Newcastle opted to train at their own training ground before their flight on Monday, rather than head earlier to Milan and train at San Siro the night before the game. 

Eddie Howe is confident the disruption to preparations will not have an adverse impact on Newcastle's first game in the Champions League in 20 years. 

"It's just part and parcel of the job that we do," Howe said in the press conference when he finally arrived. "It's not out of the normal that that can happen. This was a weather problem, but we've been in similar situations.

"It's something we're used to, although it's a slightly later arrival time than we would have liked for the players. It's no big deal, though."

Newcastle United Head Coach Eddie Howe speaks to media during the UEFA Champions League Press Conference at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 18, 2023 in Milan, Italy. (Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images)

Eddie Howe spoke confidently ahead of Newcastle's return to the Champions League (Image credit: Getty Images)

Facing AC Milan, who lost to city rival Inter 5-1 on Saturday, Howe is relishing the opportunity to test his managerial acumen on the elite European stage. The game is also set to be the first Champions League fixture he has ever attended live, but he insists he isn't placing too much emphasis on that. 

"It is a game of football and I think that's just how we have to approach it," Howe said. "Yes, it's a special game and we have to be at our best.

"I've always been too busy working to take one in," Howe said. "But it's not something I've given any thought to.

"Yes, it will be a very proud moment for me. I think it will be a very proud moment for everyone connected with Newcastle to be back in the Champions League after a long period away."

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