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Shepherd ready to buy back Newcastle if they go down
Published : 10 May 2009 12:11:17
Former Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd will try to buy the club back from Mike Ashley if they are relegated. Shepherd, still bitter about being ousted by Ashley while on his sick-bed, believes the Magpies owner will be ready to accept a cut-price bid of about £90million if they drop into the Championship for the first time since 1993. LIKELY TO STAY: Alan Shearer is expected to be boss of Newcastle next season The news will cause mixed reaction among Newcastle fans ahead oftomorrow night's must-win clash with North- East relegation rivalsMiddlesbrough. Shepherd was controversial as chairman underthe ownership of Sir John Hall. He was caught out calling Geordie women'dogs' and blamed for sacking Sir Bobby Robson in 2004. But many supporters regard him as preferable to Ashley, whose two years at St James' Park have been a disaster. Ashleywas seen as a white knight when he bought the club from Hall andShepherd for £140m and pumped in an additional £100m clearing debts andsigning players. But the appointment of Dennis Wise as afootball executive did not work out and Newcastle have had fivedifferent managers under Ashley - Sam Allardyce, Kevin Keegan, ChrisHughton, Joe Kinnear and Alan Shearer - and plummeted towardsrelegation. There is no love lost between Ashley andShepherd - Shepherd is banned from the club's directors' box - buttheir personal animosity is unlikely to stop a deal, with Newcastlefacing a financial crisis if they go down. A source said:'Freddy is waiting the wings. He can't afford to pay what Ashley did,but he knows the club will be for sale if they are relegated and ispreparing the groundwork for a bid.'Freddy got the blame for a lot of things as chairman but he was only the frontman for the Halls - he never owned it. He wants to see what he can do for Newcastle as the owner.' Shearer's own future is likely to be unchanged whether Ashley or Shepherd is in charge next season. Shearer wants to stay at the club and Ashley is happy for that to happen. But Shepherd is also close to the former England striker and was instrumental in opening Shearer's Bar at St James' Park. The likelihood of Shearer taking over increased when Robson's former No.2 at the club John Carver returned to the North-East after resigning as manager of MLS club Toronto. Carver is likely to return to Newcastle in some capacity if Shearer does take the manager's job. But Shearer's immediate focus will have to be on the club's perilous position. 'I haven't been able to switch off at all,' he said. 'I don't think you can. You go through a million emotions in a game, you are up and down - everywhere. But I'm still enjoying the challenges that come my way.' He has already demonstrated a ruthless streak those close to him knew he had; the character needed to be successful in management. Michael Owen was dropped against Liverpool; Joey Barton was criticised, fined and suspended after he tried to take Shearer on in a dressing-room bust-up. The manager has also drawn up a list of disciplinary commandments, conceived out of his own self-imposed professional code based on his experience as a player. He said: 'It's not an iron rod that has come down. We're all late sometimes but I'm saying to them, "don't be late for training. Be in at 10, training starts 10.30''. It's not such a huge deal. 'There was a system in place before and I've increased that. 'You can make your own mind up why. I felt that was the right thing to do. The players don't have a problem with it. They've openly admitted that. One or two things needed improving and I'm trying to do that.' Not the words of someone who will be here today and gone tomorrow - and that could be Newcastle's salvation.