Newcastle stress Ashley's desire to stay in charge

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The Independent Football

Derek Llambias, the new chairman of Newcastle United, reacted strongly yesterday to persistent speculation that the club is effectively up for sale by issuing a statement that stressed owner Mike Ashley's commitment to Newcastle can be seen in his restructuring of various aspects of St James' Park.

Despite the New York-based InterMedia Partners saying on Friday that they had had some contact via a third party, Llambias described this and the report connecting the club to Osama Bin Laden's half-brother Bakri as "utter nonsense". "By putting a new management structure in place, by investing in new signings at first team and academy level, and introducing cheaper tickets for younger fans, the long-term commitment for Newcastle United is there for all to see," Llambias said. "Those actions speak louder than any words."

Newcastle fans may find some reassurance in their chairman's comments, but there is still a desire to hear from Ashley directly. There was also the curious line from Bakri Bin Laden's company spokesman yesterday who, having denied interest or contact, added: "Maybe in the future, about six months or so."

Newcastle have returned for pre-season training without Joey Barton, who remains in prison.

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