Alan Shearer last night issued a statement regarding reports that he made huge salary "demands" during his discussions last week with the owner of Newcastle United, Mike Ashley, about becoming the club's manager.
"I made no demands but there were obvious conditions," Shearer said. It could hardly be described as a declaration of war, but it is an expression of frustration that does not augur well.
That Shearer felt obliged to release a statement shows the 38-year-old was clearly concerned by claims about the salary he was negotiating at St James' Park and that it was seemingly non-negotiable. That figures ranging from £2m per annum to £3m were even placed in the public domain is likely to have perturbed Shearer, who took charge of Newcastle for the last eight games of the season before relegation from the Premier League, just as much.
Shearer remains keen to be the next manager, but the weekend decision by Ashley to put the club up for sale is a complication for all involved. Ashley has been presented with a financial and personnel blueprint by Shearer as to how the club recovers from relegation. There has been a starting-point salary discussion, but further negotiations were expected on that initial conversation.
Shearer did not meet the Newcastle managing director, Derek Llambias, yesterday and contact is now not expected until Friday. That is when Ashley should know whether the £40m working capital facility requested of the banks is extended or not. This is the key to Newcastle getting through the summer and allowing Shearer to begin work properly. Ashley, however, is bent on cutting all Newcastle outgoings before thinking of recruitment at a club he cannot wait to leave.
"I met Mike Ashley and Derek Llambias last week and we discussed at length the future of Newcastle United and my desire to be the manager moving forward," Shearer said. "I made no demands but there were obvious conditions. We simply proposed an honest evaluation of what was needed to get the club back into the Premiership while building solid foundations for the future. I fully understand Mike Ashley's decision to sell the club as he feels it's now in the best interest of the club and the fans."