Newcastle managing director Derek Llambias has hit back at Joey Barton after the former Magpies player claimed his departure from the Tyneside was due to a bonus dispute.
Barton joined QPR in August after being placed on the transfer list by Newcastle following a Twitter rant in which he criticised the club's board.
It was reported yesterday that Barton went a step further by alleging he and other big-name players had been forced out of the Tyneside club after refusing to agree to a bonus proposal.
Three days after the death of former Magpies midfielder Gary Speed, Llambias blasted the timing of Barton's comments.
He said in a statement: "In a week when one of Newcastle United's most beloved footballers passed away, it is disappointing that once again Joey Barton makes the headlines.
"It is also unfortunate that Joey chose to draw such a disparaging comparison between himself and the employees of Sports Direct, who through hard work and dedication are the recipients of one of the most generous bonus schemes in UK retailing.
"It may not be a lot of money to Joey, but over 2,000 Sports Direct employees earning £20,000 will receive shares worth over £44,000 over the next two years.
"However, in this week of all weeks, we really do not wish to engage in a public war of words with Joey Barton.
"Our legal advisors are dealing with the matter now and we would encourage Joey to concentrate on his football at Queens Park Rangers.
"Our thoughts and attentions this week remain firmly with the family and friends of Gary Speed."
Barton has previously spoken out against the regime of Newcastle owner Mike Ashley and Llambias but his comments on the podcast ignited a new row.
The QPR midfielder claimed: "Newcastle, as a playing squad, were the only club in Premier League history not to sign a bonus sheet. It was unprecedented.
"We refused as a playing staff (to sign) as they tried to railroad the players into signing a bonus sheet.
"In their opinion we were paid workforce. They thought we were Sports Direct and we should do what the subordinates at Sports Direct do, forgetting they were dealing with 20-odd egos, probably 10 self-sufficient men in a position to make a number of different judgements.
"Myself and the bigger name players at the time advised the playing staff because we were head of the playing committee not to sign the bonus sheet and that filtered back to boardroom level.
"It's no coincidence that I was given away.
"It's all about power and control. They are running the football club and it's going really well for them at the minute but that's more a testament to the players and the fans, and also the manager (Alan Pardew). The manager has been different class."