Newcastle have inadvertently broken UEFA rules on Champions League preparations after their flight to Milan was delayed by more than two hours due to a storm in Italy.
Eddie Howe and his squad took off two hours and 20 minutes late from Newcastle for their flight to north Italy.
UEFA rules stipulate that teams must hold their pre-match press conferences between 12pm and 8pm local time the day before a match takes place.
A storm swept through Milan at 5pm, just after Newcastle took off, but it is uncertain whether that was the cause for the delay.
Eddie Howe, when he finally arrived at the San Siro, said the weather was the reason for their delay, and admitted they sat on the runway for nearly two hours before taking off.
Newcastle’s press conference began at 9pm, two hours after its scheduled start time.
Howe: Milan arrival ‘no big deal’
Howe insisted the weather which delayed Newcastle’s arrival in Italy will not derail their Champions League adventure.
The club’s latest European mission hardly got off to the most auspicious of starts when, having been given special dispensation to train on Tyneside on Monday morning rather than at the San Siro later in the day, they remained on the ground for more than two hours.
However, speaking at his press conference when they did eventually arrive, Howe was adamant preparations for a tough opening encounter with Milan would not be hampered as a result.
He said: “It’s just part and parcel of the job that we do. 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.”
Analysis: Howe will be frustrated behind closed doors
Sky Sports News’ Keith Downie in Milan:
Eddie Howe will not be happy with Newcastle’s flight being delayed by almost two and a half hours. We were sat in the press conference waiting for them, no-one told us they were delayed – and before they even got to Milan, they’ve broken UEFA rules.
There was some very bad weather in Milan around 5pm, a really heavy storm, and if that’s the reason for the flight being delayed, that should be accepted.
People may ask why they didn’t fly earlier. Eddie Howe wanted to train in Newcastle rather than at the San Siro, which is very unusual for teams on European duty. They can do that, they’re allowed to do that, they wouldn’t be able to do that in the knock-out stages.
My belief is that the reason he’s done that is because he doesn’t want anyone potentially watching their session the night before the game.
There are knock-on effects of that though, and with their flight delayed by two and a half hours, and turning up for a press conference at 9pm, they probably won’t be at their hotel until 11pm.
Sandro Tonali, who needs to be rested up for the game with an early kick-off, he’s going to have a late night tonight. It doesn’t look too good at this moment in time.
It’ll be something Howe is frustrated with. Whose fault it is, we’ll wait and see, but not good preparations for their first game back in Champions League football. You would like to think that Newcastle play so many games away from home in England that they’d know they like to be settled down in their hotel way before this.