Ashley cuts third of staff

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The Independent Football

Newcastle United yesterday delayed the expected announcement of Alan Shearer's appointment as manager in order to deal with up to as many as 100 redundancies at St James' Park, the administrative cost of the team's relegation from the Premier League. With speculation regarding a takeover ongoing it has emerged that the investment banker Keith Harris visited Newcastle's training ground on his visit to Tyneside this week. That will fuel the belief that owner Mike Ashley is preparing to sell the club.

Newcastle's last accounts showed that the club has 307 full and part-time non-football staff and it appears that the owner, Mike Ashley, has ordered a cut of one third. The recently hired chief operations officer, David Williamson, is the most high-profile departure, but there have been redundancies across several departments as the club anticipates a potential £50m decrease in revenue.

Newcastle's greatest expense is their playing-staff wage bill and a reduction is anticipated. One of Shearer's first tasks will be to release players and Newcastle are encouraging interest in Joey Barton as an initial step in that process, though his agent has said repeatedly that he will not be forced out. Shearer is now expected to be confirmed as manager next week.