Mort steps down at Magpies

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The Independent Football

Newcastle today confirmed Chris Mort has stepped down as chairman after a year in the hotseat.

He has been replaced, as expected, by his recently-appointed deputy Derek Llambias, who will have the new title of managing director.

Llambias said: "Since coming to work at Newcastle United, I have quickly begun to appreciate the passion people have for the football club.

"I firmly believe we have the right people with the right expertise, with Kevin Keegan back as manager and being fully supported by Mike Ashley and the directors, to take the club forward again.

"At the same time, I would like to pay tribute to all of the hard work done by Chris during his time at St James' Park and wish him every success for the future."

Llambias is a long-term associate of owner Mike Ashley and a successful businessman in his own right.

He will lead a management team which also includes executive director (operations) David Williamson and executive director (football) Dennis Wise.

News of Mort's impending departure emerged last month, and today's development comes as no surprise on Tyneside.

He was appointed chairman last summer after initially working alongside previous incumbent Freddy Shepherd following Ashley's successful £134.4million takeover at St James' Park.

Mort took a sabbatical from his role as a partner at City law firm Freshfields to oversee a strategic review of the club's business and will leave having enjoyed an eventful tenure.

He and Ashley inherited manager Sam Allardyce from the previous regime and after handing him limited transfer funds with which to rebuild his squad during the last close season, sacked him in January with results having taken an alarming dip.

They courted and appointed Kevin Keegan as his replacement and saw him guide the Magpies to Barclays Premier League safety.

However, their efforts to rein in the spending of recent years have not always sat easily with Keegan's ambition for the club to spark talk of unrest, and the manager was summoned by the owner to explain his assessment of the bigger picture at the end of the last campaign.

The manager is due back at his desk within days as the summer transfer market prepares to slip into gear with the club's fans expecting big things over the weeks ahead.