Eddie Howe vows Newcastle will ‘throw our arms around’ Sandro Tonali and ‘protect’ him, as the Italian midfielder waits to discover whether he will be given a lengthy ban for alleged breaches of betting rules
- Sandro Tonali is being investigated for alleged breaches of betting rules
- Eddie Howe insists Tonali has Newcastle’s full support through the process
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Eddie Howe says Sandro Tonali is ‘absolutely devastated’ as he faces the threat of a year-long ban for illegal betting – but insists the club will stand by their £52million signing.
The Newcastle boss also revealed that the hierarchy will ‘do what it needs to do’ when asked if they were looking to take legal action.
Tonali – formerly of Brescia and Milan – is reported to have admitted gambling on matches involving his own teams after being interrogated by Italian authorities last week. His agent says the player has a ‘gambling addiction’ and has co-operated fully with the investigation. It is thought he risks a ban of at least 12 months.
It raises the question of how much Tonali and Milan knew of the probe when he signed for Newcastle in July, and why due diligence did not reveal the midfielder’s gambling problems.
Howe is set to include the Italy international in his squad for Saturday’s visit of Crystal Palace, but that could be his last game before his punishment is confirmed.
Sandro Tonali is being investigated for alleged breaches of betting rules and could be given a lengthy ban
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe is adamant Tonali has the full support of the club
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The head coach faced questions for the first time on Tonali on Friday, and insisted his sole concern was protecting the 23-year-old, whose contract runs until 2028.
‘The most important part of this whole incident is Sandro and his welfare,’ said Howe. ’It’s very easy for people to forget how young he is, the changes he’s had in his life coming from Italy to England.
‘That’s hard enough to deal with, and now he has this situation. So we, as a football club straight away, it was throw our arms around him and protect him and try to give him the love and support he needs to find solutions to the problems that he’s had.
‘He loves the game and he is absolutely devastated. His thoughts are with Newcastle, the team and all those emotions, and our thoughts are with him. Hopefully between us we can make it work. We will support him and see him being part of our team for many years, and I know that’s the same back from his side to us. We are committed to him long term.’
Howe was asked if there was frustration that club did not know about Tonali’s issues before they committed the bulk of the summer budget on him.
‘That’s a very difficult one,’ he said. ‘From our side, Sandro is a top, top person and a top character. I’ve got no doubts about him as a person at all. But like anybody, you don’t know everything about every person. It’s impossible to, but it’s our job now to help and support him.’
Howe said he could not comment on the suggestion Milan may have known about the investigation before they sold Tonali. But when asked if the club would be looking to take legal action, he said: ‘I’m sure the club will be doing what the club needs to do. But from my side, I can’t comment on that because I’m not party to those conversations.’
Was their anger inside the club that £52m has been invested in a gambling addict?
Eddie Howe claimed the club are not angry at Tonali after signing a gambling addict
‘I don’t think we can look at it like that,’ said Howe. ‘Hindsight is a wonderful thing. We can’t play that game. We make a decision based on football, signing the players we think can make the team better and that is what we have done.
‘I don’t think there is anger from the club. I think there is understanding for the situation we are in. Now we have to make a really tough situation the best we can, navigate our way out of it, support Sandro the best we can and get back to playing football.’
Would Howe have expected Tonali to tell the club about his problems before signing?
‘I’m not going to answer that question,’ he said.
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