Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Football League

Ashley focused on promotion insists Llambias

Newcastle owner Mike Ashley's only focus is to get the club back into the Barclays Premier League.

Managing director Derek Llambias has insisted the under-fire owner will back new manager Chris Hughton as far as he can as he continues his mission to win promotion from the Cola-Cola Championship at the first attempt.

His comments came after Ashley last week took the club off the market for the second time following another fruitless search for a buyer and appointed Hughton as his permanent manager.

Llambias told Sky Sports News: "We are here. We had to draw the line ourselves by taking it off the market.

"There were a lot of tyre-kickers out there and there's not much money out there, so Mike has decided, 'That's it, I'm staying, I want to put some more money into it and let's get it promoted'.

"He is desperate to get it promoted, that's his focus."

Ashley's decision to remain at the helm, although not unexpected, has not gone down well with large sections of the club's support, and protests have been planned ahead of Saturday's home clash with Peterborough.

The sportswear magnate's cause was not helped by his decision to offer the naming rights for St James' Park to the highest bidder, although Llambias is adamant that the name 'St James' Park' will remain in any new title.

However, he has put another £20million into the club coffers this week and is ready to support his manager in the January transfer market.

Just how far that will extend remains to be seen with Hughton having to make do with loan signings to date.

Llambias said: "Mike has put a lot of money into Newcastle and he has done his best. We have made mistakes.

"He has out another £20million in this week, and that's just for the running costs. Come January, we might have to put some more in."

Hughton has already identified potential targets and has his scouts actively engaged in drawing up dossiers.

However, Ashley, who presided over the hugely destructive and subsequently expensive row between former boss Kevin Keegan and executive director (football) Dennis Wise over the club's recruitment policy, will have the final say.

Llambias said: "We sat down with Chris last week, we asked him what he wanted. There are certain positions that he wants to strengthen, so we have asked for a list of players for those positions, and we will support him.

"I know he has got the scouts out there looking at certain individuals he has pinpointed already and as soon as Chris is ready to press the button, we will go out and get those players - if we can.

"We work with Chris. Let's clear up the final say - the final say is with the Board, which basically is Mike. At the end of the day, Mike has to put the money into it.

"But Chris will recommend the players and we will go out there and get his first choices - if we can."