Newcastle fans have formally launched a campaign to buy the club.

They hope - by appealing to fans, banks and businesses - to raise sufficient funds to prise the club from owner Mike Ashley's grasp.

The sportswear tycoon recently took the club off the market for the second time after revealing he was prepared to part with the club for around £80million.

Ashley has faced repeated supporter demonstrations against his tenure and last week incensed fans by changing the name of the club's famous old ground to the James' Park Stadium.

Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST), a not-for-profit organisation formed in the wake of former manager Kevin Keegan's constructive dismissal in September 2008, has spearheaded the campaign for him to leave.

NUST spokesman Mark Jensen said: "We have emailed over 40,000 supporters to ask them if and how they want to buy into the campaign to lead a city-wide bid to buy back the club.

"The club is a fantastic investment if run properly and we aim to attract the type of investors who will seek to bring back the values of integrity and honesty to the club.

"We've been in discussions with serious people in the city and beyond and they have thrown down the gauntlet to supporters to lead the charge."

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