Newcastle rule out sale

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Newcastle have insisted the club is not for sale following a report that former chairman Freddy Shepherd is considering making a bid to buy it back.

It was claimed that Shepherd, who sold his holding in the Magpies to Mike Ashley in 2007 after the Hall family had done the same, is ready to return.

However, a senior source at St James' Park said: "Newcastle United have had no contact from anybody regarding a possible purchase and furthermore the club is not for sale."

The Shepherd camp too moved quickly to play down the suggestion.

Ashley has put the club up for sale twice since he completed his £134.4million take-over, but took it off the market for the second time last season as the Magpies responded to relegation from the Barclays Premier League by launching a concerted and ultimately successful promotion bid.

Shepherd, who had served as deputy chairman under Sir John Hall during the Magpies' return to prominence during the early 1990s, took over in 1997 and presided over fourth, third and fifth-placed finishes during Sir Bobby Robson's reign as manager.

His critics blame the decision to dispense with Robson's services after that fifth-place finish in the 2003-04 season with the steady decline which followed, although he was long gone by the time a dramatic slump reached its nadir in relegation from the top flight.

City experts predicted almost from day one that Ashley would attempt to move the club on, and while it is now a much more saleable asset than it was in the Championship, his current plan is designed for the long rather than short term.

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Premier League
Newcastle United

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