Newcastle have made a "suicidal" mistake in allowing Joey Barton to leave the club for nothing, according to the player's agent.
Willie McKay was talking after a day which saw the St James' Park club tell the 28-year-old midfielder he was free to find a new club, despite having a year left to run on his contract.
"I was totally surprised when they never offered him a contract," McKay told talkSPORT.
"I think it's a wee bit suicidal by Newcastle because how would you let your player of the year leave on a free transfer, approaching his prime.
"He had a great season last year and he was, for me, pivotal for the club getting £36million for Andy Carroll because he passed every ball to Andy Carroll, for every goal. He's a very good player and approaching his prime. I just can't understand what Newcastle are doing.
"Derek Llambias and Mike Ashley stood by Joey when he was under real pressure so I'm not going to come out and slag off Newcastle's board but I think they have made a mistake. He was going to take a drop in wages to sign a new contract."
An acrimonious departure now seems inevitable for the player, who has gone from villain to hero in the eyes of the club`s fans, with the prison term he served shortly after joining and a number of other indiscretions put behind him.
And McKay believes he will not have a problem in finding the former Manchester City man a new club, claiming to have already fielded calls about his availability.
He added: "There will be a lot of takers. Joey would hope to go to a top club and in actual fact a couple of top clubs have been in contact already. There won't be a problem finding Joey a home. He's a very good player and approaching his prime. I just can't understand what Newcastle are doing.
"I think he is capable of playing Champions League. He's a very good player."
Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.