Hall urged to 'stick or sell' Newcastle shares after takeover fails

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The Independent Football

The Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd has told his predecessor, Sir John Hall, to end the uncertainty over his stake in the club after the collapse of another proposed takeover.

The Belgravia Group's decision to pull out of its move to take control of the Magpies on Friday came after the Polygon-backed St James' Park Group had done the same and, for now at least, ended months of speculation.

Now Shepherd has urged Hall, who has been in talks over his family's 41.6 per cent stake in the club with the potential suitors, to make his intentions clear.

He said: "Sir John Hall has to decide what his role in the club is. The future of this club is in his hands. He has to decide whether he wants to stick or sell.

"For the sake of the club, the shareholders and supporters, Sir John must decide quickly what he is going to do and make his position public. He is perfectly entitled to sell his shares to whomever he wants. But if he wants to sell them he needs to say so and, if he does not, good, let's all march on together.

"The uncertainty is making it hard for me to run the club. Sir John identified two potential buyers and it has not worked. How many more potential buyers has the club to cope with?"

It was the Hall family's investment in the club which saw Newcastle rise through the 1990s back to the upper reaches of the Premiership. However, Sir John stood down as chairman in December 1997 when Shepherd assumed control.

Shepherd has steered the club through troubled waters in recent times, dispensing with managers Sir Bobby Robson and Graeme Souness, and has found himself a target for the critics during a troubled season.

But he resisted the Polygon and Belgravia approaches and insists the speculation has proved damaging to the club and his efforts to take them forward. Shepherd said: "The offer period has been damaging and difficult for everyone at the club.

"Everyone at the club from me as chairman down to the manager Glenn Roeder, the coaches, the players and our administrative staff have been left wondering whether they would have jobs when it was all over.

"If he lives to be 100, is Sir John going to keep trying to sell these shares? Are we going to have this uncertainty forever? All I am asking [for] is a clear decision."