One of Newcastle's joint chiefs leaves

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The Independent Online
Mark Corbidge, the joint chief executive of Newcastle United, has left the football club after just eight months and only three months after it floated on the stock market.

"We didn't fire him. He did a good job but it became apparent in the last few months that having two chief executives was not working. It was an arrangement put in place before I arrived," said Sir Terence Harrison yesterday, Newcastle's non-executive chairman and the former chief executive of Rolls-Royce.

Mr Corbidge will receive a pay-off of pounds 400,000. He had almost three years of his contract to run under which he was entitled to an annual salary of pounds 160,000 and guaranteed bonus of pounds 80,000. Mr Corbidge received a bonus of pounds 300,000 to float the company from Cameron Hall, the investment company that owned Newcastle and which is run by Sir John Hall, the property entrepreneur whose son still owns a majority stake in the club.

Mr Corbidge joined the group from Newcastle's brokers, NatWest. His fellow joint chief executive, Freddie Fletcher, will take over his job. "Mr Corbidge helped us float the club and was City oriented. Mr Fletcher had a general management role and looked after the soccer business. It was best for all concerned that Mr Corbidge left," said Sir Terence. Newcastle is likely to appoint a new executive director with financial experience to the board to replace Mr Corbidge within the next few months.

Newcastle's decision came as no surprise to analysts. "Newcastle's corporate governance at flotation was seen to be well below expected levels. The board structure always looked unsustainable," said Nigel Hawkins, football analyst at Yamaichi. Another analyst said yesterday. "This decision will not upset too many people. Corbidge didn't go down too well with institutions and analysts."