Soccer

Eddie Howe underlines the importance of safety after brush with a fan

Sam Allardyce experienced a wide range of emotions (Mike Egerton/PA)
Sam Allardyce experienced a wide range of emotions (Mike Egerton/PA) Sam Allardyce experienced a wide range of emotions (Mike Egerton/PA)

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe says his confrontation with a Leeds fan in the 2-2 draw at Elland Road should act as a wake-up call for those responsible for the safety of players and staff.

An angry home supporter – who Leeds later said had been arrested and banned for life by the club – climbed out of the stands and entered the technical area to confront Howe before being quickly whisked away.

Howe says he is fine after the incident, which came in injury-time of a pulsating game, but that the safety of those involved should not be “violated”.

Eddie Howe at the final whistle
Eddie Howe at the final whistle Eddie Howe at the final whistle (Mike Egerton/PA)

“I actually can’t remember whether he pushed me or not, I’ve got no idea, it’s such a strange thing because you’re concentrating on the game and you don’t expect it to happen,” Howe said.

“He confronted me, said something that I can’t repeat and was then led away.

“I’m OK, moments like that do make you think about the safety of staff and players is paramount for me at any matches in the Premier League and Football League. We need to be mindful, security is so important.

“I don’t know if I had time to be fearful because it was over in a flash but it certainly makes you think ‘what if’ and I think it is moments like this that should make people look and analyse how we can improve safety for staff and players.

“No one should have to face that, playing a sport we love and trying to entertain the country, no one should feel like their own personal safety is violated. It is something for us to reflect on.”

Howe was more disappointed that his side could not win at Elland Road as they looked to strengthen their grip on Champions League qualification.

Luke Ayling put Leeds ahead early on but a pair of Callum Wilson penalties gave Newcastle the lead only for Rasmus Kristensen’s deflected effort to deny them three points.

Luke Ayling had put Leeds ahead
Luke Ayling had put Leeds ahead Luke Ayling had put Leeds ahead (Mike Egerton/PA)

Howe added: “It was a strange game, lots happened, a lot of different feelings from it. At 1-0 down and a penalty down you are fearing the worst but we managed to get ourselves in front and are ultimately disappointed not to win.”

Leeds stay in the bottom three, but it was a positive afternoon for new boss Sam Allardyce on his first match in charge at Elland Road, though he needed to calm down after the enthralling nature of the match, where Patrick Bamford missed a first-half penalty and Junior Firpo was sent off at the death.

“I needed two valium when we came off to calm me down,” he joked. “I enjoyed it actually, I did. I was nervous before the game because we were playing at home and I wanted to give the fans something.

“But what the lads did for me and the rest of the staff, the fans and themselves gave me some hope going forward because they tried their very best and I can’t ask for any more than that.

“Two-two in the end is satisfying. I hope it goes to the wire, when we play Tottenham I hope there is somehting in it for us.

“We have to keep our fingers crossed that the others don’t win. It’s not in our hands so all we can to do is what we did today and do it better.”