Owen explains Newcastle deal delay

Newcastle striker Michael Owen insists the "hysteria" which has gripped the club over the past few months is responsible for contract talks being put on hold.

The former Liverpool and Real Madrid frontman could be free to leave the Magpies in the summer, which is when he is due to come to the end of a four-year deal.

Owen, who scored twice in Saturday's 2-2 Barclays Premier League draw with Stoke, would be free to hold talks with other clubs next month.

He conceded that the departure of former manager Kevin Keegan, the attempted sale of the club and the appointment of an interim manager in Joe Kinnear have stalled contract talks.

"It is something that has been spoken about for a long, long time now," Owen told BBC Sport.

"I had talks with the club about five or six months ago. We were negotiating but then all the hysteria happened.

"Kevin Keegan left and a lot of the people on the board as well left and some of those people were the ones we were negotiating with.

"Since then there has been so much happening that we haven't resumed. The club obviously haven't got back to us yet."