Shepherd slams 'ridiculous' transfer window

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The Independent Football

The Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd has hit back over claims his club dragged their feet during the transfer window and instead criticised the system as a "restraint of trade".

There was disappointment on Tyneside when they missed out on several late targets. Mark Viduka, Robert Huth, Lucas Neill and Zat Knight were all linked but only Giuseppe Rossi, Antoine Sibierski and Olivier Bernard arrived.

However, having earlier spent a combined £15m on the Republic of Ireland winger Damien Duff and the Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins, Shepherd instead questioned the wisdom of the window.

He said: "We have nothing to reproach ourselves for. We have spent £15m on Damien Duff and Oba Martins, who we believe are real quality signings - and that after paying out £28m for Michael Owen and Albert Luque this time last year. We also beat off a lot of other Premiership teams to get Giuseppe Rossi in from Manchester United.

"Antoine Sibierski has come in as a squad member, we have got Olivier Bernard back and Shay Given on a new five-year contract. But there is no one to blame for us not getting other players in before the transfer deadline. It's the window to blame. It is absolutely ridiculous and really a restriction of trade, and I would like to see somebody challenging it."

Shepherd revealed that he had asked his manager, Glenn Roeder, to restructure his squad - he has moved on high-earners, including Jean-Alain Boumsong and Lee Bowyer, but has retained Albert Luque.

The chairman said: "We have been slammed for trying to do business on transfer deadline day, but it is no good saying you should buy before that because things don't always work out that way in football. It's not like buying a pair of shoes off a shelf, it's completely different. It's more like a game of poker - and don't forget, other clubs do not always want to sell their players."

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