Football: Fans infuriated by Newcastle allegations

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The Independent Online
NEWCASTLE UNITED refused to comment last night on newspaper allegations that two directors had made a string of cynical and disparaging comments about the club's players, management and supporters.

The News of the World reported comments allegedly made by Freddie Shepherd, the chairman, and Douglas Hall, the vice-chairman, in a Spanish brothel. The newspaper said their conversations had been secretly recorded by an undercover reporter.

The alleged comments have infuriated many Newcastle supporters and there were fears last night that they may also affect the value of the club's shares. The share price has dropped sharply over the last 12 months as the club has enjoyed comparatively little success on the playing field.

Douglas Hall is the son of the club's figurehead and former chairman, Sir John Hall, who may now be forced to come out of retirement. Sir John stepped down in December but following the weekend allegations it was reported last night that he is considering making a return to a hands- on role at the club.

Among the alleged comments, Shepherd was reported to have said that Kevin Keegan had been dismissed as manager for spending large amounts of money in the transfer market but failing to win trophies. At the time of Keegan's departure in January last year it was said that he had resigned.

Shepherd was also reported to have said that Newcastle had tried unsuccessfully to recruit Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, as Keegan's replacement, but that instead the club "ended up with Kenny Dalglish".