Newcastle are taking on AC Milan at the San Siro (Reuters)
A Newcastle United supporter is in hospital in Milan after being stabbed on Monday night.
Newcastle fans have flocked to Italy to watch their club play against AC Milan in the San Siro on Tuesday, in what will be their first Champions League match for 20 years.
Eddie McKay, 58, was with his son and a friend when they were attacked by a group of men wearing hoodies at around midnight near the centre of the city, before police intervened. He was stabbed in the back and arms after he fell while trying to run away. Photos showed a shirtless man with a Newcastle United tattoo lying on the street in a pool of blood, being treated by medics before being taken away in an ambulance.
Police have confirmed that Mr McKay was taken to a city hospital. His condition has been described as “stable” with non-life-threatening injuries.
His daughter, Rachel McKay, told Sky Sports News: “My dad is stable and in a bit of shock. He’s gutted he’s missing the match but just wants every other Newcastle fan out here to be aware and be safe.
“He has just had two knee replacements so he fell when he was being chased and that is when he was attacked. My brother is OK but is in shock after seeing that happen to our dad. I’m flying out there later. We haven’t slept all night.”
A Newcastle statement said: “We are deeply concerned by reports that a supporter was seriously assaulted in Milan on Monday evening and we are liaising with local authorities to understand the circumstances. Our thoughts are with the supporter and their family and we hope for a full and speedy recovery.”
The incident took place between via Segantini and via Gola in Milan (Google Street View)
AC Milan’s ultras have been connected with previous instances of violence against rival fans, including Dutch side Ajax. Three Ajax supporters were stabbed and another man injured during violent clashes before a Champions League match in 2013.
Monday’s incident took place in the Navigli area of the city, where fans had gathered throughout the evening. Videos on social media showed supporters revelling in their European return, with some sliding along the street on their chests.
A scarf is left in a pool of blood left after violent clashes between Ajax and Milan fans in 2013 (Getty Images)
Newcastle have a 4,000-seat allocation for the game at the iconic 76,000-capacity San Siro, although it is thought many more fans have travelled to Italy without tickets.
The club last played in the Champions League in 2003, and visited the San Siro then too when they drew 2-2 with Inter Milan, who share the stadium with their fierce city rivals. It is also Newcastle’s first European appearance of any kind since their Europa League run to the quarter-finals in 2013, where Benfica ran out 4-2 winners on aggregate.
Newcastle’s fortunes have fluctuated since then, enduring relegation from the Premier League, countless managerial changes and the unpopular ownership of Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley.
Ashley was eventually bought out by a consortium led by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, and new financial backing in the transfer market coupled with the successful hire of manager Eddie Howe saw the club quickly climb the Premier League ranks, finishing fourth last season to secure their Champions League return.
They have been drawn in a difficult group, however, with Kylian Mbappe’s French champions Paris Saint-Germain, German side Borussia Dortmund and seven-time European champions Milan.
The Newcastle squad’s flight was meanwhile delayed by adverse weather on Monday, with Howe insisting the situation had not affected his team’s preparations for the match.
The club could face punishment from Uefa after missing the obligatory timeslot of 12-8pm to hold media duties, with Howe’s press conference eventually beginning at 9pm local time.
“It has been a long day, an early start and a late finish,” Howe said. “I believe there was a weather problem. We sat on the runway, nothing out of the ordinary and it can happen from time to time. It has been a day of preparation getting our game plan right. It has been intense. We are looking forward to it.”