Newcastle chairman Chris Mort claims his club were on the brink of "folding like a pack of cards" until the former regime was bought out.

Mort reports that the Freddy Shepherd era at St James´ Park lurched into a perilous position shortly before Newcastle was taken over by Mike Ashley four months ago.

"We were surprised at how bad the financial position was -- they were in big trouble," he told The Sun. "If the old board had not re-financed the club by the end of the financial year on June 30, it would have folded like a pack of cards."

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