Robson awaits Newcastle payoff

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The Independent Football

Sir Bobby Robson, the former Newcastle United manager, said yesterday that it was "about time" negotiations were finalised over his severance package with the club.

Sir Bobby Robson, the former Newcastle United manager, said yesterday that it was "about time" negotiations were finalised over his severance package with the club.

The Magpies are understood to be close to reaching a financial settlement with Robson, after seven months of wrangling. The 72-year-old departed on 31 August last year after a poor start to the season. His exit ended a five-year reign, and Robson and Newcastle have been in dispute ever since over financial terms.

It was thought agreement between the two parties had been reached and a conclusion was imminent but Robson said: "I have to tell you as far as I'm concerned you're jumping the gun a little bit. It's in the hands of the solicitors. I was dismissed in August and it's now April, so it's about time and it's in the hands of the lawyers. That's all I can tell you."

Robson, one of the guests of honour at last night's World Cup qualifier between England and Azerbaijan at St James' Park, has been fighting to have his contract - which was due to expire at the end of June - paid up in full, while Newcastle have continued to hand over his monthly salary.

The club's obligation would have ended if Robson had taken another job. Although he has been linked with several vacancies and is keen to work again in the Premiership, the right offer is yet to come along.

Robson took charge at Newcastle in September 1999 with the club in the bottom two and in danger of slipping out of the top flight.

However, he resurrected their fortunes to such an extent that last season's fifth-place finish after back-to-back fourth places was regarded as a major disappointment.

Robson had already been told the current campaign would be his last, much to his disappointment, and his dream of bowing out after claiming the club's first major trophy in 36 years was ended when he was fired last year.

His successor Graeme Souness has found life tough at St James' Park, although he has started to win over the doubters.

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