Newcastle wait on Keegan decision

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The Independent Football

Newcastle and their former manager, Kevin Keegan, may have to wait until the week after next to learn the outcome of their compensation wrangle.

A Premier League independent arbitration panel hearing drew to a close today, and judgement has been reserved.

The Press Association understands the panel's findings may not be announced for upto a fortnight.

In a statement from the League Managers Association, who have been representing Keegan, chief executive Richard Bevan said: "Having heard the evidence from both sides, the panel has reserved judgement, and there will be no further comment on the process until they have published their findings."

Panel members have spent two weeks hearing the evidence in Keegan's case for constructive dismissal, which he launched following his departure from St James' Park a little more than a year ago.

The former England manager took action after alleging he had effectively been forced out of the club eight months into his second spell in charge.

He claimed his position had become untenable after the deadline day arrivals of Spanish striker Xisco and loan signing Ignacio Gonzalez, both allegedly without his knowledge, as the recruitment team, then headed by executive director (football) Dennis Wise, went about its business.

Newcastle's counter-claim is that Keegan knew the set-up and that, by walking out of the club, had broken his contract.

A mutual compensation package of £2million was written into the deal when the adopted Geordie returned to Tyneside as Sam Allardyce's replacement in January last year, meaning the club had to pay if he was sacked and that he had to if he walked away.

However, it is understood he is not only seeking the value of the remaining part of his three-year contract, but also compensation for loss of future earnings.

If successful, that could have major financial implications for a club whose income has been slashed by relegation from the Barclays Premier League.

Indeed, Press Association Sport revealed yesterday that the worst-case scenario could leave the Magpies with a bill far in excess of the £9million reported value of his claim.

If that proved the case, putting the club into administration would be an option, if the most extreme one.

Today's decision means both parties face a further wait to learn the outcome of the panel's deliberations.

The club remains up for sale with three consortia still actively involved in the bidding process, although none has yet convinced owner Mike Ashley that it has the £100million to strike a deal.

But the Keegan saga is also a factor with prospective owners waiting to see if the Magpies are held liable, and to what extent, before attempting to finalise a move.