Shearer future remains uncertain

Newcastle were today still attempting to finalise a deal to secure Alan Shearer as their manager.

Owner Mike Ashley and managing director Derek Llambias are keen to come up with a package which will persuade Shearer he will have the tools for the job.

However, until agreement is reached, supporters will have to remain patient in anticipation of what will be a crucial decision for the club's future.

The club has already started to lay off staff - around 150 employees, many of them part-time, had earlier been informed their jobs were in jeopardy.

Shearer has already provided Ashley - whose Sports Direct International business yesterday sold its directly-owned stake in JJB Sports for a small profit - with an outline of how he would want to approach the job.

He has explained how he would revamp a squad which proved ill-suited to the task of retaining Barclays Premier League status, despite a massive wage bill.

Any new manager would have to substantially reduce expenditure on salaries, which currently amounts to more than £70million.

Some big earners will inevitably leave as they look elsewhere for football at the highest level, although the prospect of cashing in on £10million striker Obafemi Martins if the club chose to do so would be hampered by a lingering groin problems which requires further surgery.

Others may have to stay if Newcastle cannot find buyers.

But if Shearer retains the job, the chances of controversial midfielder Joey Barton remaining on board are minimal.

The 26-year-old, a £5.8million signing from Manchester City, has been injured for much of his time at St James' Park.

He has also served a term in jail for common assault and affray, but it was his stand-up row with Shearer in the dressing room at Anfield after he was needlessly sent off in a 3-0 defeat by Liverpool on May 3 which proved the final straw.

Barton was banned from the training ground for the closing weeks of the season, and there is little appetite to see him return for pre-season training on 1 July.

It is understood Shearer would look to offload him and his £60,000-plus-a-week wages as a matter of urgency.

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