Newcastle may face UEFA punishment as Champions League plans thrown into chaos
Newcastle United could face UEFA punishment after their plans for their Champions League trip to AC Milan were thrown into chaos. The squad’s flight to Italy on Monday was delayed by two-and-a-half hours and they could suffer repercussions.
Newcastle are set to play in the Champions League for the first time in 21 years. But they have seen their preparations disrupted at the last minute.
They were handed a group of death at the draw last month. Milan are their first opponents on Tuesday, while Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund will play out their clash in Paris on the same night.
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe would have wanted everything to go smoothly before their return to Europe’s elite club competition. But that was not the case on Monday evening.
Howe and summer signing Sandro Tonali were due to hold a press conference at the San Siro at 6pm UK time. However, it soon surfaced that the flight carrying Newcastle staff and players had not taken off on time.
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In fact, it left Newcastle airport two-and-a-half hours later than scheduled. The plane was tracked by journalists at the San Siro and was still flying over Switzerland at 6.30pm UK time.
The reason for the delay is not yet known. But according to UEFA regulations, Newcastle could be in hot water.
Article 73 of the regulations states that press conferences have to be held between 12pm and 8pm local time on the day before a game. But Chronicle Live reports the plane did not land until 8.07pm local time, with Howe and Tonali nowhere to be seen.
Bad storms had hit the city of Milan earlier in the day. Milan’s press conference was disrupted by a power cut. Manager Stefano Pioli and defender Fikayo Tomori sat in darkness for around 10 minutes in the middle of their media duties before power was restored.
If fit, Tonali is in line to play against Milan less than three months after leaving to join the Magpies in a £55million deal. Tomori insists he will be pleasant with the 23-year-old but any friendships will go out of the window once the match starts.
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Tomori said: “Obviously it will be nice to see him again. We played a lot of games together. However, there will be no pleasantries once the teams step out onto the pitch.
“It will be nice to see him again so soon after he left, but we are professionals. When the game starts, friendships go out of the window. We want to win. After the game we can start being friends again. During the game, though, we are not friends.”
Milan head into the match off the back of a damaging 5-1 loss to rivals Inter on Saturday. Newcastle, meanwhile, picked up their first win since the opening day with a 1-0 victory over Brentford.
Tomori knows Milan are in for a tough game. He added: “They [Newcastle] are a very strong team, with legs up front and physicality at the back.
“They like to play it deep. We know what we’re expecting from them and then we have to demonstrate our quality with and without the ball.”
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